Seven Reasons to Keep Your Cubicle Empty


I hate cubicles. There’s nothing more demeaning and distracting to a worker than sitting in a gray box and trying to be productive. Like a pig in a sty, you’re surrounded by your own mess and you have limited access to fresh air and sunshine.

It’s pathetic.

Here’s why you should keep your cubicles as empty as possible.

  1. At any given point, you might be laid off. You will be asked to pack your belongings and vacate the building in less than thirty minutes. What do you grab? What do you leave behind? If you keep your cubicle empty, you don’t have to make that choice. You can grab your coat and walk out with some dignity. No boxes. No bags.
  2. In general, messy cubicles make you look disorganized. If you have tchotkes and trinkets sitting on your desk, you have no space for more important stuff — like work.
  3. Keeping a bowl of candy on your desk makes you look too social. I loved visiting the employee who kept an endless supply of Hershey’s miniatures on his desk. Krackle is my favorite. Eating chocolate is a good way to avoid doing real work. Everyone else thought so, too. Unfortunately, you won’t accomplish anything meaningful when you’re constantly interrupted by visitors. Maybe that’s the point, but it doesn’t look good to your boss.
  4. Too many picture frames make you look weird. There was a time in my life when I had two cats and no husband — but I had sixteen picture frames in my office. A friend of mine asked “What’s with all the kitty pictures? Are you keeping vigil? Did one of them die?” Snap.
  5. People judge you by the crap you keep. Do you collect Dilbert dolls? How about swag from The Office? Do you keep Star Wars posters in your cube? No matter what you keep, we are totally judging you. Dork.
  6. You look crazy with your clutter. There’s nothing uglier than a beige cubicle with short walls and no privacy — except one that’s packed to the gills with junk. Are you a member of my staff or a weird person on Hoarders? Keep your private stuff at the office to a minimum.
  7. Buildings are dirty. When you have stuff cluttered around your workspace, you collect dust and other pollutants. Allergic rhinitis is one of the leading reasons why people call in sick for work. Wouldn’t you rather call in sick when you have a hangover or you want to go to the spa?

I think we need to bring our authentic selves to the office, and I don’t mind a few pictures of your kids to remind you of why you’re working in an ugly cubicle, but please leave your souvenirs and stacks of magazines at home.

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