24 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t say he’s confused. That’s the joke: “Hey, aren’t cubicles like little prisons?”

  2. Cubicles are for making people who don’t have offices feel like they have private workspaces. Mr. Blazek seems to be just fine on the concept.

  3. Mark M – I’m just saying the joke is “Hey, aren’t cubicles like little prisons? Wouldn’t it be funny if we drew it literally?” I’m not saying this is a good business plan.

  4. Electric fences use hardly any power at all. They maintain a voltage potential but it’s only when someone touches it that power is consumed, and the amperage is tiny. You can get a solar powered one that has a solar panel just a few square inches in size.

  5. Prisons don’t have electric fences. Human prisoners are almost all smarter than livestock.

  6. @CIDU: “Well, “confused” in that cubicles aren’t like prisons any more than ravens are like writing desks.”

    There are at least two good (for some values of “good”) reasons why ravens ARE like writing desks, which is probably more than there are for many X are like Y things.

  7. Does anyone know what the knobs on the wires are supposed to be? At first glance I thought it was barbed wire, but that doesn’t make sense if it’s supposed to be an electric fence. The spacing is far too short for extension plugs/sockets, and lights doesn’t make any sense at all.

  8. A common sentiment (shared by Scott Adams, the creator of “Dilbert”) is that office managers are always trying to save money (which translates into making more money), and can come up with schemes that, to the outsider, seems very odd.

    One of the ways they do this is by shrinking cubicles, or adding more people to cubicles, or getting rid of cubicles altogether. They think this will ultimately make the company more money.

    But to those of us who work (or used to work) in those cubicles, it really feels like managers are trying to increase their grip on the employees by using the misguided idea that decreasing comfort and personal space will increase transparency, which will increase productivity, which will ultimately increase profits.

    Like I said, many people (like maybe even me…) think this initiative to lower cubicle standards is misguided, but the manager never thinks so. That’s why I find this cartoon amusing: The manager clearly thinks electric-fence-cubicles are a good idea, while he’s oblivious to the fact that his employees are quietly updating their résumés.

  9. It’s not that Mr. Blazek doesn’t know what cubicles are for, it’s that many managers in Corporate America don’t know what they’re for.

  10. I think Scott Adams did a whole story arc about Dilbert’s company leasing out unused cubicles to the prison system to house prisoners within the first year or two of the comic strip.

  11. All this talk of prisons is misguided. You guys are seeing structures to keep people in. Look again, this time assuming the fences are there to keep other people out.

  12. To paraphrase the Four Yorkshiremen: “You had a cubicle? Lookxury.”

    When I was working for Cisco Systems, they remodeled the buildings to replace all the cubicles with open areas with big desks with 8 workstations each so that everyone would be scrunched together. I retired before the move was complete so I don’t know how it worked out, but I do know that a couple of months after I left they laid off the rest of my team. (Which I had been expecting to happen for four years.)

  13. When I was working at Intel (mid 90’s), they were cramped for space and were undergoing a compaction of cubicles It was a rolling change… they’d take out some big cubicles and put in a bunch of smaller ones, then move people into the smaller cubicles, then tear out the old cubicles to make room for more smaller ones. It was like a wave that started at one end of the building and slowly crossed the building to the other end, a process that took months to complete.

    I didn’t have a cubicle at all but I did work in lab space that was about the size of 4 cubicles, which couldn’t be compacted because the equipment in it didn’t get any smaller. (One of the engineers I worked for had a gigantic, 21″ monitor on his desk. It was so big you had to stand in the aisle to use it. We had it because it was the only monitor at the time that could do 1600×1200 resolution (we tested video drivers).
    I moved over to a different group that had a secured area… actual physical walls… and so didn’t have to worry about the ongoing compaction.

    The next year, Intel started building a new campus and they wound up abandoning the compaction about 3/4 of the way through, because they could move people to the brand-new shiny buildings instead of squeezing them into the old ones.

  14. My office is the medium bedroom in our house. I share it with Robert, 3 computers (plus laptops), 4 printers, a copy machine, my desk, two computer desks, a table, a paper shredder, 3-2 drawer file cabinets 5-6 ft tall bookcases and one half size book case. My desk is the one my parents bought me when I was in 2nd grade (and I still hit my knee on the leg of it constantly.

    My space is the width of a student desk plus the depth of a computer desk. When my analog monitor died we had a problem finding a new monitor small enough across to fit on the computer desk next to the computer tower on it and not overhang the other side enough that the closet next next to the desk could not have it door opened. Robert’s space includes a 5 ft long table and is about 1.5 to 2 times the size of my work area.

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