It’s an age-old problem. Cubes don’t have doors. That means anyone can walk into your cube at any time.
I used to keep my head buried in the computer, and hunch a bit over the key board when someone came into my cube, to give them a subtle signal that I was busy. But alas, that rarely worked. Co-workers would still say, “sorry to bother you” and then launch into discussing what ever it was they wanted to discuss.
I knew some people that were just rude and straight forward when someone would come into their cube. They’d say, “go away. I’m busy.”
I was never one of those. I didn’t want to hurt my colleagues’ feelings.
Well, right now people are busier than they’ve ever been, and they just don’t have time for cube-erruptions. All you cube dwellers probably wish you could move into that empty office where the laid off manager used to sit so you could get all your work, and the laid off guy’s work done.
This is why I was excited when I got an email Monday from a company called CubeGuard hawking a retractable message banner that you mount on your cube entryway.
First I thought it was a spoof, like something from a Saturday Night Live faux commercial. But it was for real.
What’s CubeGuard? It’s an amazing new low tech tool to prevent interruptions and help users meet deadlines. Check it out!
Why should you care? Because there are more than 50 million cubicles in the U.S. with frustrated workers getting continually interrupted.
We wanted you to see CubeGuard for yourself and wanted to send one unit we have customized just for you.
OK, I usually don’t even respond to emails from companies selling junk, but this one intrigued me.
This week, my two kids, 6 and 9, are home because school is over and camp doesn’t start until next week. I’m sort of in a working parent’s purgatory. They’re excited about being out of school and want to explode, but I have tons of work to do and can’t really help them release steam.
I rarely shut the door to my office, so they just walk in and out all the time asking me questions like, “why does the sun come out each day”, and they constantly beg for gum and candy. Even a shut door doesn’t always keep the little buggers at bay.
I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to get one of these CubeGuard thingies and put it up at the doorway to my office.” If it could keep two elementary school kids away, I surmised, then everyone in a cube farm all over this great land should buy one pronto.
I emailed the PR person and told her to send me one ASAP. I also suggested a message to put on the CubeGuard banner since they were touting how it could be customized.
My message: “Leave Mommy Alone!”
“Ha-Ha! I love that!,” replied the PR woman.
It arrived yesterday and the first thing I noticed was it didn’t include my suggested message. It said: “Eve is blogging. Please do not disturb.”
That was a bit disappointing because I figured it probably wasn’t forceful enough to keep the little shavers away, but it was a cute message nonetheless.
I hung it up at my my door right away, and was pleased that it was fairly easy to put up.
So this is how it went:
First off, my husband was working from home yesterday, and we share an office. He saw me put the thing up but still walked into it after a trip to the bathroom because he had his nose in his new Palm Pre. This did not make him happy.
Next problem was having to retract the banner back and fourth every time I wanted to leave the office. This became annoying fast and a few times I forgot to put it back in place when I returned.
Then came the big test. I could hear my daughter’s footsteps coming up the stairs. She stopped in her tracks and started laughing when she saw the banner. She asked me five times where I got the thing from and paid no attention to the nice message. (Just as I thought.)
Finally, I yelled at her to be quiet because I was working and asked her if she read the message. She said she had and asked me again where I got it from. She then proceeded to limbo under it.
OK, experiment FAIL.
I figured there was going to be the curiosity factor for anybody who tried this at their cube or office. So forget about not being interrupted the first few days because your nosey cubemates will surely want to know where you got it and what the heck it is.
I was worried if something like this would offend coworkers and family, but it seemed to be more funny than offensive.
That said, it is a little odd having the banner up. I kept feeling like I was a chalk outline of a dead body in a crime scene. Surely I’m alive enough to tell people I’m busy and don’t need some banner to tell everyone to leave me alone, right?
How do you guys handle this issue?
If you’re really desperate and are sick of having people bug you while your working and think the CubeGuard could help, email me. (email@example.com) The first few people that do will get a coupon for one of these things for free.
I take no responsibility if people still interrupt you. And watch out for your feet.
Last night, around 11 p.m., the thing fell off the doorway. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something.