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Chances are, you work in a cubicle. It is the workplace of the 21st century. Your cubicle is your home away from home for over 2,000 hours a year. And, before you get your creative hands all over it, it likely looks as inviting as a prison, and as stimulating as a sensory-deprivation tank.
However, you can personalize your cubicle. With a little cubicle decorating savvy, you can turn your cubicle from ho-hum into hot-dang! All within the bounds of professionalism, of course.
Let us start with the basic cubicle layout. Usually, cubicles have a desk, a telephone, a coordinating chair, and (for the lucky few) built in storage bins or filing cabinets. These cubicle amenities usually come in beige, tan, gray or muted blue.
Cubicle decorations can improve your morale, provide interesting opportunities for conversation, and help you feel a sense of pride in your workspace and the accomplishments that come out of it. They can make your work day more productive and more fun.
But, decorating your cubicle in the workplace is not the same as decorating your room was as a teenager. Don’t festoon every surface of your cubicle with artifacts, knick-knacks, and mementos; nothing you bring into your cubicle should distract you from work.
Instead, use cubicle decorations with restraint. Use small touches to “personalize your space” without turning it into a shrine to your personal life. How do you know what your office considers “a small touch?” Easy—look around. What are your office-mates doing to their cubicles? How does the boss have her office decorated? How about your supervisor’s cubicle?
If nobody has anything up in their cubicles, you may want to stick to customizing your computer desktop picture, but if others have decorated their cubicles, you may be on to something.
Another thing you must consider when decorating your cubicle is the type of exposure it gets. Do you have direct contact with clients or guests from other companies while working in your cubicle? If so, then you may want to be more conservative with cubicle decorations, as the reputation of your company depends partly on the impression you (and your cubicle) give them.
Keeping in mind both the style and purpose of your office, the following list of “do’s” and “don’ts” will help you customize your cubicle the right way.
Do personalize your cubicle with family pictures. Framed family portraits, diplomas, and pictures of your friends are all excellent office cubicle decorations. You may even wish to bring a small bulletin board in for these pictures.
Don't take it too far. Remember that in office cubicle decorating, “less is more.” Remember, if it looks like a space a teenager would like, you have take it too far.
Do use plants. Real plants can boost your mood and add a bit of color to the office. If your office mates have allergies, or if you have more of a brown thumb than a green thumb, you can use silk plants for the same boost.
Don't distract yourself. If that picture of you and your best friend on vacation causes you to launch into memories of the trip, then maybe it would be better off at home. You should never be distracted by your cubicle decorations.
Do add a conversation piece. Putting up a brainteaser, a thought-provoking quote, or a comic can be a great way to get to know your office mates. If you really want to make friends put out a dish of candy in your cubicle.
Don't be offensive. Respect is the name of the game when it comes to office cubicle decorations. If you think your personal decorations may offend somebody, leave them at home. That means no pin-up girls, no racist, misogynist, or derogatory jokes—and nothing profane. If you are unsure whether or not your co-workers will be offended by your decorations, err on the side of caution.
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