Monday, August 24, 2015

Ghosts of cubicles present

I recently watched the excellently funny and darkly humorous movie Office Space, on the plague of the current times: The non-spaces that most offices tend to be, where a large portion of the intelligent middle class workers spend their days, years, their life.
Pair that with the brilliantly researched book by Nikil Saval called 'Cubed' and I was in introspective misery as I contemplated the speedily waning weekend and my own entry into the cubicle of my office. There are times when I feel a seething rage at the hiss of the coffee machine, the steady hum of the central air conditioning system and the unnatural, deeply unimaginative white light that everything around me is bathed in. 

People find their escapes in their screen and the headphones which are attached to their ears like extra appendages during work hours, and the atmosphere is borderline surreal at times. The surroundings have an alternate, suspended and stifling reality. 

To quote the protagonist in Office Space, are we truly meant to spend our lives in cubicles, staring at screens? The nature of most modern work being such, it's getting difficult to find jobs that require something more out of us. The computer seems to be the ultimate tool that needs to be mastered and offers infinite challenges and distractions to keep one busy, or to at least give the impression of admirably being so.

The evolution of the office space and the issues surrounding the same have been better articulated and referenced by many others. Why do I waste my breath on saying the same old things, that so many others have said before me? Mostly to make myself feel better out of the rant, yes. But to also suggest that whenever we do have a chance to rethink and structure the workplace; architects, technologists, designers, anthropologists and business folks need to come together to define a better system that is more open, modular and ultimately more productive for us. (And for people like me- well, just a window to stare out of would suffice for now, without the crushing knowledge that I will have to climb the proverbial career ladder to land a corner office for the same.)