You’ve finished the introductory course on cubicle pimping and feel prepared to take your cube game to new heights. So what’s next? Full Disclosure: these suggestions are geared towards bold cubicle dwellers, desperate to bring life into their workspace. Stop reading now if you’re content with going through the motions or are afraid to ruffle feathers. At the end of the day, I want you to remember that this is about having fun and retaining your sanity in an insane work environment.
1. Ping Pong
Ping Pong, or table tennis (according to your tightly wound boss), is a wonderful activity for any office space. In fact, there may be no better antidote to “cube rage” than having a ping pong table at the office (other than chucking your 27 inch monitor out of the window on the 46th floor). Ping Pong friendlies, round robin matches, and office-wide tournaments bring healthy competition to the workplace and provide an opportunity to get your blood flowing. Invest in a table that folds up for solo play (e.g. Forrest Gump). While it’s more fun to play against an actual opponent (as opposed to a wall), sometimes you need to get in the zone by honing your individual skills at the ping pong altar. You’d be surprised at how unifying ping pong can be. Office zombies and sullen sleepwalkers light up at the sight of the sacred table. Start building your case for a ping pong table in the office. Let the games begin and may the odds be ever in your favor!
Think back to the good old days of jumping on the trampoline in your best friend’s backyard. Was there anything better than a perfectly timed “double bounce”? In a mere 3 years of cubicle life, you’ve packed on about 25 pounds in beer and cake weight. You’ve all but lost your athleticism. You can’t remember what it feels like to fly. The gravitational pull of your office chair seems insurmountable. But then, like the chirp of a morning bird on a warm spring day, you hear that delightful sound: “creak…creak…creak.” The sound of poorly lubricated springs expanding and retracting. You catch a glimpse of your colleague’s head bobbing up and over The Great Wall of Cubicles. Initially, you scoff at your peer’s immaturity: “I can’t believe Marvin has the audacity to horse around in his revered cube farm.” But then you remember how much fun horsing around used to be. You sheepishly walk over to your neighbor’s farm and ask for a turn. Flying over The Great Wall of Cubicles, you rediscover your childlike spirit.
3. Inside Jokes
Office personalities run the gamut. You literally can’t make up some of your interactions in the office. I’m amazed at the sheer difficulty of having human conversations with people who have become robotized for much of their adult lives. “How about that game on Sunday?”, “Is it Friday yet?”, “When is our next happy hour?”, ” Want to grab another cup of coffee?”, “How’s work going? You staying busy?” Yikes. Is this all we can talk about? Breathe life into your office by being ridiculous, by being human. As frustrating as these surface-level conversations are, they’re a part of life and can be navigated with humor. If you dig deep enough, you’re sure to find kindred colleagues in your office who can empathize with the ridiculousness of your shared experiences at work.
One day, I affectionately nicknamed one of my bosses “Moneybags”. Moneybags had a propensity to talk almost exclusively about business and making more money for the firm. Without fail, Moneybags would stop by the cube farm and reminisce on the glory days – back when he was a lowly farmhand. He would get on his soapbox and drone on about the long hours he worked as a plebeian staffer. When he wasn’t reflecting on his personal work history, he repeatedly encouraged us to keep working hard and making more money for the firm. One time he lectured us while holding a dollar bill in his hand (you can’t make this stuff up). After Moneybags left the farm and was clear of the pasture, we gave each other the universal money hand gesture and sang “Money, Money, Money, Money.” My coworkers and I shared many a good laugh over Moneybags. Have fun at the office and find humor in the little things. Share some inside jokes and bond with your colleagues over less-than-ideal circumstances.
4. Constructive Daydreaming
Daydreaming comes in many different shapes and sizes. There is a time and a place for constructive daydreaming. When the stakes are high and you need to submit a report or focus on an important meeting, it may not be the best time to have your head in the clouds. But when you have downtime and flexibility at work, take a few minutes to float away to your happy place. The important thing is that you allow yourself to dream! Don’t let your hopes be crushed by an oppressive cubicle. Even if your cubicle has won the battle, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war. Here’s the thing about constructive daydreaming: with courage and belief, you can convert your (day)dreams into reality.
5. Plot Your Escape from The Matrix
For most of our lives, we’ve been conditioned to become a passive participant in the creativity-stunting machine world. A life linearly lived doesn’t necessarily equate to a life well-lived. Perhaps the idea of climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t appeal to you. Maybe money and power don’t rev your engine. Heck, maybe the idea of a cookie cutter house with a white picket fence isn’t number one on your bucket list. That’s okay. You don’t have to abide by the rules of The Matrix. Once you wake up to the alarming truth that The Matrix is a fabricated reality, you’ve taken the biggest step towards plotting your escape. Daydreaming your departure can only get you so far and leaves you vulnerable to slipping back into the machine world’s strong undertow. Agents will try to do everything in their power to keep you from waking up and preventing you from bucking the system. Stay strong. If you’ve had enough of The Matrix, start plotting your escape. The best way to pimp your cubicle is to leave it altogether.