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October 30, 2008

The Billion Dollar Cubicle? It Might Not Be What You Think

By Tim Gray, TMCnet Web Editor


American business has a rich history of tradition as well as innovation. And two of the most cemented traditions in business have to do with the boss getting the biggest paycheck and keys to the corner office.
 
However, in today’s changing business environment tradition may be taking a back seat to innovation – at least when it comes to passing out those keys. And the office cubicle is front, and often center, of the changing times.
 
It is no secret that New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg (News - Alert) has long preferred office cubicles to corner offices. In fact, when New York’s two-term – soon to be three? – Mayor Bloomberg took office back in 2002 he ripped out City Halls traditional “office” setup and went about constructing a “bullpen” with a series of office cubicles where he set up shop square in the middle.

The boss, a billionaire boss at that, placed himself in the center cubicle right next to new hires and middle rung employees of the country’s biggest city?

You bet he did.
 
The mayor arranged the bullpen in a former City Hall public meeting room that is now packed with low-paneled cubicles.
 
"Walls are barriers, and my job is to remove them," the billionaire businessman told the New York Times at the time. "I wasn't hired to do well in the polls. I was hired to do a good job."
 
And this wasn’t a sudden cubicle revelation to the mayor. Bloomberg made his fortune building his financial data and media empire – Bloomberg News – in much the same manner with “bullpen” style offices filled with cubicles and him occupying center stage right in the middle of all his employees.
 
The cubicles idea, Bloomberg has said, is to create an atmosphere of openness with the boss out front without anything hidden.
 
''It's good to see the boss out there without any gatekeepers. It tells everyone that there are no secrets, that we're all in this together,” Matthew Winkler, the editor in chief of Bloomberg News, told the New York Times. “It's like being in a boat.”
 
Now, a growing number of CEOs are taking the mayor’s lead and choosing to work to in the center of the action, where the real business is taking place.
 
And there are several obvious – and a few maybe not so obvious – reasons that cubicles are becoming a popular solution for all size businesses and for all levels of employees.
.
For starters, cubicles foster an atmosphere of open communications among workers. As cubicles become more prevalent in the workforce business leaders are reaping the benefits of hearing and seeing what employees are working on. It may seem simple but the cubicle solution can reduce tradition hierarchy models that separate workers from management.
 
While the organization benefits are plenty, there is still one reason for a cubicle friendly office that may trump the rest: Cubicles save organizations lots of money. If designed and installed properly by the right cubicle solutions company employers can fit more employees into less space. 

Think about it: The billionaire mayor of New York City credits the cubicle with improving his business and now his administration. There is a good chance it can improve yours.

For more information on Cubicles keep an eye on Cube Solutions’ Cubicles Channel here on TMCnet.

Tim Gray is a Web Editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Tim�s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray



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