In twenty years we are going to look back at cubicles and shake our heads. A magazine spread promoting cubicle-esque office furniture will be today’s equivalent of finding an ad that touts the relaxing effects and medical benefits of Camels or Virginia Slims. “What were they thinking?” The youngsters will say.
I sit all day long. I sit in a grey cubicle with grey metal framing and padded grey walls. The walls are taller than I am when I stand, which you know, I don’t. The desk is mounted into a “hot” frame so that if I say, came in on a Saturday when no one else was around and tried to dismantle it, I’d probably electrocute myself. I sit in front of a computer which is mounted into the desk 8 hours a day. I sit through meetings, interviews, lectures. I sit. My muscles atrophy. My joints stiffen. I sit.
One hour a day I break the routine. I leave the cubicle environment and exercise. The problem is that one hour a day is not enough to counteract the 23 other hours that I’m sitting or lying down. There’s a ton of literature on the subject. Just google, “sitting makes you fat.” You’ll find it all: studies that discuss what sitting does to the physical body, studies that show sitting so many hours per week increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes, articles that describe alternatives such as treadmill desks, raised meeting tables, and how to form walking groups at work.
And I’m not a total hater of office furniture. I enjoy studying work places and organizational design to make day-to-day life better for workers. I can go observe office spaces, talk to the employees about their daily routines and preferences, construct design parameters within a tight budget for how to improve the space, etc. But sitting is still the norm. Cubicles persist. Change will be slow. It’s not exactly environmentally-friendly to go throw out all the cubicles and replace them with human-friendly spaces. For now, I’m working on solutions to improve my personal grey cube and trying out new ways of working.
I used to be a smoker after all. If I can stop smoking, I can give up sitting, too.
They look fit, don’t they?