Say Goodbye to the Cubicle, For Good


Things could get interesting for the average big company employee soon, if Seth Godin is right. He proclaims that the era of the cubicle may be coming to an end sooner than we think, in a new article in Time Magazine.

Godin cites the uncertain economy as the main driver for the change. “Employers no longer need to pay you to drive to a building to sit and type,” he claims. This may result in the death of the cubicle in the next 5 to 10 years. The results-only work environment (or ROWE) is a precursor of this change.

This transition away from cubicles won’t be smooth for all involved, however. Godin points out that the end of the cubicle is coming because of fundamental changes in the nature of work. Employers no longer need people to do basic tasks like reception, errands, or even processing words or numbers. Those jobs will be outsourced, and only essential people will remain employees:

Work will mean managing a tribe, creating a movement and operating in teams to change the world. Anything less is going to be outsourced to someone a lot cheaper and a lot less privileged than you or me.

The irony of the situation is that even those who manage to keep their jobs could end up longing for the “good old days” of less accountability. It turns out that working for a big employer under these new location independent circumstances could be more difficult that it is today, according to Godin:

We'll go from a few days alone at home, maintaining the status quo, to urgent team sessions, sometimes in person, often online. It will make some people yearn for jobs like those in the old days, when we fought traffic, sat in a cube, typed memos, took a long lunch and then sat in traffic again.

Where will you fit in all this? Do you agree with Seth Godin’s picture of the future? Will co-working make life better in the post-cubicle world? Has your employer started to increase telecommuting or reduce office space? Tell us in the comments!

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photo by Tim Patterson

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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: