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The Ultimate Cubicle 178

kimba writes "Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has developed the ultimate cubicle with design company IDEO (the same guys that made the Palm V and the new sexy Cisco IP phones). Lying in a hammock watching boss-cam... shweeeet." Still, nothing beats a wireless laptop on a shaded porch, beverage in hand.
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The Ultimate Cubicle

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  • The ultimate cubicle is not having one and being in a corner office :)
  • Now that's my idea of an office with a view.
  • No offense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @10:31AM (#2229767) Homepage Journal
    No offense to you slashdot editors, but you guys have no idea what life in a cube farm is like. It isn't all that bad...

    Add some desktop items and toys from a good place (like thinkgeek [thinkgeek.com]), maybe a nice Aeron chair, and everything is peachy for your day to day work.
    • > It isn't all that bad.

      What are you smoking and why aren't you sharing?
      • If you enjoy your job, it doesn't matter where you sit...

        If you absolutely can't stand being in a cube, you don't like your job.
        • Sorry, but that's just not true. I like my job a lot, but I can't stand the cubicle I'm usually in. For the past couple weeks, I've been working off-site, and I have a very nice office. I can easily work TWICE as many hours in the day now.
  • another site (Score:2, Informative)

    by mahtaaaain ( 465399 )
    Ideo's take:

    • Cubes are just working areas for 8 hours of your day, not little appartments where you sleep

      You've never worked at a startup...

      • You've never worked at a startup

        I had to perfom an on-site security audit of a firm in Atlanta last year, and it was my first visit to the stats in a work-capacity.

        There were people sleeping everywhere! They were working hellish hours, and then just crashed out in a sleeping bag on the floor!

        I've never experienced this in the UK! I have always at least made it to a hotel for some sleep, or at least to the bar to unwind my mashed-out logic functions!
        • by Foss ( 248146 )
          I've been told (by one of the workers) that games companies often work like this when getting close to a deadline. People bring in sleeping bags and crash on the floor of their office!

          A certain Derby based games company have showers, games rooms etc. too to help their workers relax when a 16 hour work day is necessary.
  • Cubes are just working areas for 8 hours of your day, not little appartments where you sleep. Its in interesting article but for the most part a cube is a cube is a cube.
  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @10:36AM (#2229785)
    Instead I've got a Hot Desk.

    While this can mean free & easy living, it also means you have to pack the entire contents of your working life into your laptop-bag every evening, and set it all up again the next morning, and you don't have a monitor to stick post-it notes on.

    I yearn for a desk (or even a cube!) where I could actually feel at home, and not like some sort of transient drifting soul through the sea of employment.
    • I yearn for a desk (or even a cube!) where I could actually feel at home, and not like some sort of transient drifting soul through the sea of employment.

      Yeah, that's the one thing I dislke about my "flexible field office (FFO)." When I'm actually there I really don't have a place to call my own. But in a way that's prefectly fine, considering I'm hardly ever in the office, and typially at a customer site. At my main customer site I have my own desk, yeah, it's in a tiny cube, but I honestly don't mind considering I don't have management breathing down my back, I can deal with it.. And if I ever need a breather, I disappear into the server room...

      But if I had to deal with the FFO on a daily basis, it would get old real quick.
      • I'm in total agreement: allegedly my laptop is my desk and I can work anywhere. As a consultant I'm rarely in my base office either, but even there it's a hot desk because there are more people than desks (but a large proportion are generally at client site).

        I've got no idea what the solution to this is. In my previous life as a programmer I had the same desk for 4 years, but I was bored sh*tless. Now I'm a "free spirit" I'm yearning for the old days.

        Used to be able to come into work with a massive hangover and just disappear behind my monitor for a few hours and clutch the desk till the world stopped spinning, but not I'd have to crouch pretty low to hide behind the TFT screen on my laptop :P
    • Maybe you should take another cue from Dilbert, store your belongings in a shopping cart for portability, and develop an interest in tagging other people's cubes :)

  • by Laplace ( 143876 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @10:36AM (#2229787)
    Gosh, when I go to work I like to get things done. I like to write my programs; I like to run my tests; I like to read research papers. Scott Adams seems to think that the best kind of work is no work. If you hate what you're doing, this is true. If you like your job, it's not. I want a quiet, well lit cube with lots of desk space. Yes, an office would be better, but you make the best of what you have. The article was kind of funny, but not in the way it was intended to be funny. Scott Adams is out of touch with the white collar working community, and it shows both in the article and in his comic strip.

    • Scott Adams is out of touch with the white collar working community, and it shows both in the article and in his comic strip.

      betcha my grandpa never thought he'd hear THAT one. whoah is me I make 50k a year, heh. Adams is never out of touch, the only thing i find interesting is that he's still so on the ball after all the years of being out of corporate America.

    • The amount of desk space in that cube is a problem. I doubt if I could work in it because of how little it has. I liked all the other stuff though, the fish tank, removable/interchangeable modules, the window sim, etc.. put more desk space in it and I would use it.
    • Hear, hear!

      Eating is one thing, but sleeping and staying away from the boss are not only not important job functions, they're not things you should be doing at work. If you have a boss that you need to hide from, then I garuantee that you won't have one of these cubicles. If you have a job that has you pulling all-nighters, then I don't care how nice your hammock is, your job should give you a bed to sleep on, not a cubicle. Do you really want to sleep surrounded by your work?

      People at work should stick to working, and leave the games and naps at home.
      • Way to take this too seriously! This was just a prototype - more of a proof-of-concept, not an actual product. The hammock and boss-cam are funny Dilbert-esque gimmicks, but there were also seriously nice ideas here, like the modular storage, built-in-seat, customizable panels, sunlights, etc.
    • "Scott Adams is out of touch with the white collar working community, and it shows both in the article and in his comic strip. "

      Actually, I still find Dilbert to be really funny, and I have a white collar job. I have spoken to a lot of people who worked for major telcos or very large multinational corporations that are identified by their initials, and the belief was that Scott Adams had to have worked for the same company because there were many elements in his cartoons that were so similar to things that they experienced in their jobs.

      As it turns out, he did not work for the same company, but what he wrote about was relevant and familiar to people who worked for large corporations. If you work for a smaller firm, then Dilbert might not have the same appeal. But since I started working at one of those large multinationals, Dilbert is a lot funnier because I have met the clueless (but highly over-paid) executives, the sleazy consultants, the pointy-haired bosses, and the annoying cow-orkers.

      Don't get me wrong, there are also some incredibly smart people who work with me, but they tend not to be in management...

      Some people might object that Scott Adams has sold out and gone corporate, but IMHO it is still funny. Keep in mind that it was never as cutting edge as something like South Park anyways. No way is Scott out-of-touch. I still read the cartoon, and if my PHB would spring for one of those cubicles, I would definitely take it!
      • IIRC Scott Adams worked for Pac Bell, which may not be quite multinational but is definitely right up there on the bureaucracy scale :)

        (in response to other comments about Scott Adams) I've always understood the "work avoidance" aspect of Dilbert to be a way of coping rather than an actual dislike of work; if you've lived with ever-shifting deadlines, incompetent management, employee mistreatment, and complete corporate disorganization for long enough, I imagine you'd try to find something to do at work that didn't involve running in circles as well. Dilbert isn't fantasy or escapism at all; people really are like that in the great big world of work, and if you just can't bring yourself to believe that, then thank your lucky stars that you work at somewhere small, nimble, and non-meeting-oriented. Me, I'm definitely loosing my laser-like focus on the customer :)

        Dilbert's a good guy, not a slacker; he's just surrounded by other people who are well past their Peter Principle level of incompetence.

      • He started Dilbert while he was working in a cubicle at PacBell.
  • Bleh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @10:38AM (#2229800) Homepage Journal
    Is anyone else reminded of the car Homer designed?
    • Yeah, because it was rerun last night.
    • la coucaracha...and you can NEVER find a horn when you're mad.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Where's the monitor in that Dilbert office?
      Where's the O'Reilly books?
      Where's the stacks of paper?
      Where's the refrigerator?
      Where's the desk space?
      Where's the filing cabinet?

      Oh yeah ... there is no filing cabinet ... there's a desk side thingy that will hold about 20 folders.

      You know what? This isn't Dilbert's cubicle. This is the PHB's cubicle (if he had a cubicle). It's a bunch of crap with no actual facilities for geek work.

      Where's the giant whiteboard? I worked in a place once where we did some physical re-modelling. The boss asked us what kind of facilities we wanted in the conference room. I said "whiteboard. Floor-to-ceiling whiteboard. Just tile that whole wall in melanine." He did it, and we used it.

      The fold-down visitor chair is a neat idea though.
      • Whoa! I thought I was all alone in my longing for a wall sized white board. Where can you get one of those? White boards are the best work productivity tool I have outside of my computer. I can map networks, programs, and keep a list of to-do's all in one space, and next week wipe it all away and start over. Sooo much more convenient than post-it notes!
        • Go to your local Home Depot/Lowes. They sell huge sheets of it for bathrooms for like $15-$20. It looks and works just like a real whiteboard, but is MUCH cheaper. They obviously don't have frames, but that's not a big issue.

          We where doing a complete reconfiguration of a 17 campus school district over a 6 month period. In the workroom we where given to coordinate all of this we bought about 15 of these things and screwed them onto the walls. It was great. We mapped out the whole system.

    • Scott seems to have stolen the hammock idea too...

      Hank: Uh, hi, Homer. What can I do for you?
      Homer: Sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks.
      Hank: Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn't I think of that? Hammocks! Homer, there's four places. There's the Hammock Hut, that's on third.
      Homer: Uh-huh.
      Hank: There's Hammocks-R-Us, that's on third too. You got Put-Your-Butt-There?
      Homer: Mm-Hmm.
      Hank: That's on third. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot... Matter of fact, they're all in the same complex; it's the hammock complex on third.
      Homer: Oh, the hammock district.
      Hank: That's right.
      -- "You Only Move Twice" (Blatently stolen from SNPP [snpp.com])
  • Cables? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jedwards ( 135260 )
    I want a cube which makes it easy to route and hide cables, not one which makes it easy to hang my shirt (cos I always carry a spare shirt with me, naturally)
  • Still, nothing beats a wireless laptop on a shaded porch, beverage in hand.

    I can think of slightly better accommodations, but that's beside the point. I think Taco and Hemos should be banned from posting stories where they bitch slap us with their luxuries such as 7 laptops, a handful of arcade games complete with cabinet, T1's in the bathroom, and everything else out slavish devotion to /. has brought them.

    Unless of course I can get a job slapping a -1 on "Forst Pist!" and "goatse.cx" that will buy me all that stuff. In that case, mail me(now!), and keep bragging.

  • Why not just make a wireless cubicle? You put wireless access points around the city with PGP (not WEP) encryption. Then, The employees can work wherever they want. If they want cold soda they can go to the convenience store. If they want coffee they can go to the coffee shop. If they want to work they can go to the middle of nowhere, provided no other co-workers are there. Then you wouldn't even have to worry about the boss finding you.

  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @10:46AM (#2229839) Journal
    nothing beats a wireless laptop on a shaded porch, beverage in hand.

    Must be nice to have cashed in the Andover and VA stock early.

  • Seriously, I can't believe they designed a "perfect cube" and didn't include a means in which to have a readily available supply of alcohol within arms reach...
  • "Even your wastebasket will kind of vibrate with happiness when trash is thrown into it. So you want the cubicle to love you and care for you, kind of a womb experience."

    Does anybody get the feeling that Scott Adams is channeling Douglass Adams? I'm reminded of the doors -- "Please enjoy your trip through this door."

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @10:50AM (#2229857)
    ...and it reminded me of the Thrid Class suite that you had in Douglas Adam's Starship Titantic game. How everything seems to fold up and away into the walls, with a some-what infinite flexiblity.

    Mind you, in the Newsweek blurb, they mention that you (paraphrasing) "might be rewarded from the boss with the aquarium add-on". Great - the ability to personalize one's cubicle is now a reward rather than a norm?

  • Holy heck, and I thought there were only half a dozen!

    Just wish my darned local bookstore had heard of Scott Adams.
  • Stupid idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wtlnxtyr ( 446330 )
    Who needs an aquarium? Or a mechanical flower that wiltes when you leave? And simulated sun movement? Give me a break.

    The ultimate cube has a place to put a stereo with CD's, lots of desk space, a fridge, and wall space to hang pictures, artwork, and other necessities (read: vendor calendars and commonly referenced notes).
  • THIS [cyberpiggy.com] is what we call Ultimate Cubicle.
  • The chair is OK, but I'd like to see a padded, leather, reclining one. Oh, and with a built in Massager.

  • Granted, Scott Adams has long ceased to have anything really interesting or even funny to add to the noble genre of Sticking It To The Man, but even so, this smacks of desperate gimmickry. I mean, if you're going to pretend that you can get away with a hammock in your cube, why not throw in a Real Doll [realdoll.com] and a three foot bong? [bong.com](And, yes, I realize that any number of erstwhile dotcommers probably had hammocks at work in those halcyon days at the dusk of the last millenium. Spare me your tales of the golden age, gramps. I'm talking about today.)

    The real keys to an enjoyable cubicle experience, IMNSHO, are two things:

    1) headphones;

    2) a sign reading something to the effect of: "Due to recent cutbacks, we have found it necessary to charge for casual conversation at the rate of one (1) beer per half-hour, after work, payable in advance."

    Give it a shot, let me know how it works out...

    • You make it sound like a hammock is a bad thing, but in fact it's one of the most comfortable places to get serious work done from. It's automatically more ergonomically correct than that cheap office chair you're sitting in, for example.

      Falling asleep == bad. Hammock != bad.

      • You make it sound like a hammock is a bad thing, but in fact it's one of the most comfortable places to get serious work done from. It's automatically more ergonomically correct than that cheap office chair you're sitting in, for example.

        True--most of the confession facilitators used by the Spanish Inquisition(iron maiden, rack, bastinado, etc.) are more ergonomically correct than my office chair--but beside the point. The question is, will the powers-that-be allow you to use it, regardless of the rationale? Of course, that might exclude headphones as well; maybe you'd have to tell people that you're listening to an MP3 of the CEO's speech at the last company picnic. "Yes, I listen to it constantly. It inspires me. Now fuck off."

  • What I find more important than having a comfy cubicle is if your monitor is facing the gen pop, or if it's faced to the back wall. Hey, if my monitor isn't facing the crowd, i'll obviously have higher scores in solitare and snake because I won't be as nervous.
  • Even your wastebasket will kind of vibrate with happiness when trash is thrown into it. So you want the cubicle to love you and care for you, kind of a womb experience.

    Shudder. Shades of:

    Please enjoy your trip through this door.


    Glad to be of service!

  • You just don't get it, do you ?

    "lying in a hammock" "wireless laptop on the porch" "ultimate cubicle"

    You are still at work whatever your cube looks like. A prison is still a prison even if the food is good.

  • From Filthy Critic's review of "Office Space":

    "The jokes are funny and more than half work. They are almost exclusively about office shit: all the stupid fucking memos; all the fakeness; all the bullshit office workers have to put up with. The movie is much funnier than the lame-ass world "Dilbert" and "Cathy" cartoons because it acknowledges the true misery lurking under all those fluorescent lights (if you like Dilbert and/or Cathy, please leave and visit other web sites because you are not welcome here). Dilbert and Cathy joke about offices, but their authors are such pricks that they believe, deep down, we all love our jobs They aren't against office culture, they are for it. That's why Dilbert and Cathy bullshit is always hanging over Goddamned copy machines. And that's why the most annoying asshole in every office is always the biggest "Dilbert" fan."

    So True...

  • ...then I realized that right now, I have a foozball table, big screen TV and a bar in my office, and a pool table and gym in the next room.
  • by manon ( 112081 )
    I think it kinda brings back the 60's in the office. All those cubes and flowers. Anyway, I like the design... but I wonder, does it come with a pair of shoes with a fishtank in each sole?
  • I was trying to check out CNN for my regular dose of corporate-friendly news and it appeared to be down.

    "No problem" I think, and head back to Slashdot. The newest story on Slashdot links to CNN. *Grin*
  • Woohoo! (Score:2, Funny)

    by dkoyanagi ( 222827 )
    Finally, a place where I can buy business hammocks.
  • Hemos,

    A shady porch with a cold beverage is close but I can one up that: White sandy beach, near crystal blue water (and a sealed, ruggedized laptop with wireless access... if you care), 27 deg C, a cool drink, a palm or a beach umbrella for some shade, sun, and the sea breeze. That verges on not being work.

    Of course, if it was like the last Cuban beach I was on (Sorry, you Americans wouldn't know about it - nice holiday spot just south of Florida - you really should try a visit sometime...), there'd be enough _distractions_ that productivity would suffer.

    The big plus is that you don't give a damn...
  • I just want a cube with a god damned decent computer in it. I'm programming on an outdated POS Pentium 166 while the Sales Executives are checking their email on brand-spanking new PIII laptops. WTF is that about?
  • Why new cubes... thought by 2000 we would be working from home?
  • Once he was a genius. Then along came the pathetically bad Dilbert TV series, and now this stupid ultimate cubicle thing. When I saw the article on CNN, I assumed he had actually designed a functional cubicle with amenities people really need, and was interested. Instead I find I wasted 20 seconds and 2 mouse clicks to read crap about a boss-cam and hammocks. And some design firm actually is advertising their involvement with this ?
  • It looks like it would cost a fortune. Certainly alot more than those snap together cubes I've seen in the past.
  • The cube might be interesting, I'll never know, as the storywas worthless. there is appearently an aquarium, but I have no clue how it fits. There is a Hammock, but I can't tell if anyone could take a nap in it. there might be a fold down chair, which could be useful or useless, but I can't tell because it isn't shown.

    In other words this is a fluff story lacking the meat any engineer would want. there are no pictures. There are some neat gimics (the coffee warme/cola cooler might be useful) but appearently no attention was paid to accually getting work done. Where is the comptuer? does it interface to the white board so I can save my notes? Does the sun simulation lighting not cause excessive glare on my screen?

    whoever thought of the chair that automaticly calls your phone after it is in use too long (to get people out of teh cube) should be shot. the only people who can use this function are in customer service and will get critical calls often enough that it isn't an issue. The rest of us know the someone personally in our cube is higher priority then the phone and let voice mail take the call. (Unless we have callerID and suspect the call is a family emergency)

    I don't want a mechanic flower that wilts. If I want a flower I want a real one. Depending on how green my thumb is I might or might not want the cube to take care of the flower. (some like to do the work themselves, some just want the green). And those who want flowers want a good ventalation/filtration system so that I can smell it in my cube, but he guy in the next cube won't die from allergys. (I happen to work with someone deathly allergic to some plants)

    So if my boss is reading this: there are some neat ideas here that we should consider for our cubes, but it isn't the ultimate cube.

    • If you go to IDEO's site [ideo.com] they have some goods pages with animation describing some of the features. It's a pop-up so I can't link to it directly. I looked there before reading the CNN article, so I actually liked the CNN article. YMMV.
      • I did. slightly better then the CNN story, but only slightly. I still havn't a clue what modules are avaiable. Appearently I can snap them in and out, but nothing mroe is clear. No pictures of the aquarium, or fish in it. No pictures of any work getting done, or even hints that work could be done. No hints as to work ability.

        Oh, and in floor storage sounds great except that I was flooded out of my cube this spring, and I know I'm not the only one working in a swamp. (why someone would build an office on a swamp is a different rant) Even there, they showed a storage module, but there is no way to tell how much it would hold, or what type of stuff fits.

  • reply in general to all people posting things like "that's stupid", "scott adams is a corporate whore", "that won't help me get any work done" -- you all need to lighten up. Anybody who takes cubicle designs from the author of 'dilbert' as a serious thing needs to be examined. It's funny. It's not intended to increase productivity, it's intended to make you laugh. Get a grip.
  • This was in the Newsweek that arrived in my mailbox yesterday. And they included a cute little editorial diagram and description of everything that I didn't see in this online article. The aquarium is some sort of reward from the boss... the flowers wilt when you leave and bloom when you arrive showing that someone cares about your presense. The chair, when folded down, triggers your phone to ring, to shoo away those pesky visitors. I can't remember them all, but it was cute.

    I didn't think it was something for real. I figured Scott Adams, being a cartoonist, created it as something amusing and Dilbertish.

  • I was an intern at M&M Mars and I noticed that there were no cubicles at all. The company noted studies that showed that employee's were more productive in war rooms and they hated tiny cubes. I remember reading a simuliar news article here on /. about this a few months ago. So basically they took all the cubicles out and just had rows of desks. They even took out the offices! It looks so much nicer not to mention you can't really goof off with everyone watching so productivity is way up. If you ever need something you can just go up to someones desk and ask. No waiting behind an office door. Also you can find someone easier by just glancing across the room. In other words I felt more free and less confined.

    If I were a CEO I would make sure no cubicles were installed at all. I could save costs with productivity and the employee's would like it more.

  • While i think that Adam's cubicle is cool, I still think that these [poetictech.com] are still cool. I think they were once featured on slashdot, but search is still down.
  • Here in Amerika (spelling intentionally perturbed in protest of the stalin-esk laws that we call the DCMA) we are spoiled rotten. we live in homes that have 860-2000 square feet if you are a normal human being or more if you're a really overpaid creature. many-many in japan live in much less. and they do so comfortabaly(sp?). in reality we dont need that much room. (except for storage of the massive amounts of crap we collect... I really dont need my collection of remote control aircraft,12 computers,electronics engineering lab, etc...)

    what I would love to see is this same "cubicle" principal to a living space. make a 120 Square foot serviceable apartment. (ok, 140SQ foot... you have to add a bathroom) does anyone have any links to ultra-compact living spaces?
    • America... is the richest nation on earth. I mean honestly, why should anyone there have to work in a tiny cage without natural light?

      Ok, Japan has a big economy too, but it's also a very small country with a lot of people, making space an expensive resource - that's hardly true for the US.

      So really, why shouldn't USians have a decent work environment?

  • Here's [ideo.com] the cubicle described better.

  • About IDEO (Score:3, Informative)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2001 @01:10PM (#2230683) Homepage Journal
    IDEO is an interesting company. They've designed chairs, water bottles, toothbrushes, computers, cell phones. In a world full of useless tchatchkas, they greatly enhance the general usability quotient.

    Here's a radio interview with Tom Kelley [npr.org], their general manager. And here's a fascinating web page [ideo.com] showing all the cool stuff they've worked on.

  • Whatever happened to his Dilberito? Wasn't he selling some kind of vegetarian microwavable burrito that was supposed to be the perfect cubicle food?

    I was going to at least buy a couple to see if they were any good, but I never saw them anywhere...
  • Man.

    If that's not enough of a reason to love these guys, I don't know what.

    The Logitech CyberMan II [ideo.com] was the king-hell perfecto par excellence of game controllers. And it was gorgeous and sexy.

    But of course, nobody bought it so nobody developed for it so no body bought it...

    It will come back. The world continues to spin, and lost clues are merely buried to be discovered anew when we rebuild our civilization.

  • ...we don't get to choose what company makes our cubicle. Therefore, 90% of the ideas that make his cubicle so "cool" are actually useless.

    Imagine if EVERYONE in your office had that nifty fold-out chair that rings your phone. Gee, I wonder if your co-workers and boss would catch on to that trick?

    I can see it now. Co-worker sits down in fold-out chair. It's set to ring your phone in 5 minutes. At 4:59 on the clock, your wife calls. "Honey, would you like to go out to dinner tonight? I can hire a sitter."

    Your co-worker laughs at this lame attempt to kick him out of the cube, grabs the phone out of your hand, and yells "Fuck you, I ain't going nowhere!" into the phone, and hangs it up for you.

    Hey, that would make a great Dilbert cartoon. Almost.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI