Honest confession – until recently, my cubicle at work looked like a trash bin. I spent some money and energy fixing up my cubicle, and now it’s the envy of others. In this article, I will talk about decorating a cubicle in manly ways. I have seen good, bad and ugly workspaces occupied by ladies, but they look so different from a man’s cubicle. Sorry, I don’t have the desire to decorate my cubicle by season or date; that’s just not me. I don’t put up little pumpkins in October and eggs at Easter like women do.
Previously I posted some of the basic tips on becoming a better employee by writing better emails. Writing good emails and living in a well-organized office space are a few subtle things that don’t get a promotion or raise directly, but raises you up in the eyes of people who matter at work.
Your cubicle says a lot about you, especially if someone visits for the first time and you are not there. Decorate your office cubicle with great care. My VP (boss’s boss) works from a different city. On one of his visits to our office, he decided to pay one of my colleagues a visit. The colleague was on a break. The VP left a post it note asking him to clean the desk and make it livable. You know how embarrassing that is? I didn’t get a post it note but my cubicle was no better.
You spend all day in a cube, at least 8 hours each work day. Why don’t you make it clean, clutter-free, and soothing?
The rules of office cubicle decoration
- Know the rules and regulations at your job. Any offensive quotations, memorabilia, or images could lead to loss of your job.
- Printouts are the biggest cause of clutter on your desk. Discard all papers when they outlive their purpose.
- Don’t overhaul everything in a day. Don’t lose your productivity by putting your day’s energy into organizing. I decorated my cube during a weekend trip to the office. My boss greatly appreciated that.
- You can decorate for free. Look for garage sales to accumulate small office equipment that still works.
- Your home decorations and office decorations are not the same thing. A lot of pictures, toys, and mementos look better at home than in the office.
- Do not place items in such a way that your visitors can’t see you while talking.
- Too much decoration is bad – well, at least to me.
How to decorate a man’s office cubicle
- Barring exception, black and shades of blue are man colors. A man cubicle should have these as base colors without much red or yellow. A couple of colorful files or books definitely look great on an otherwise black and blue background.
- A man cubicle should have the presence of leather. The best leather good you can find is a leather covered notebook or day planner. Always keep it next to a pen holder. I have a taste for black leather planners and steel ball point pens. Nice pens are class acts. Casually thrown in leather phone case also adds value.
- If you’re not single, put up a picture of you and your girl. It should be the best picture ever taken of you both. If you have kids, try to use a picture of the entire family together. Make sure that you are portrayed as a good father. The pictures you are most proud of should be kept in your cubicle.
- Don’t put up too many pictures – the idea is to give the visitor a glimpse into your personal life and to get yourself motivated during those bad days at work. A single picture can do both. If you can get a leather photo frame in black, it would look nice. Better not to pin your favorite picture onto the cubicle wall. Put it respectfully on your desk.
- Do not keep personal care items like brushes, combs, mouthwash, or hand sanitizer in public view. They don’t look good in a man’s cubicle. Keep them for better health and skin, but not in a public view.
- Keep office supplies well organized. I got a nice organizer at a garage sale. The ones available at Walmart or Target are good enough to keep your sticky pads, tape, pins, and stapler organized.
- When you’re not seating in, do not keep the water bottle opened with cap on the table, do not leave your glasses. Log off and turn off monitor. Keep your notebooks closed. More for the privacy of your sensitive data, also it speaks of your carefulness.
- I notice younger generation is either nonchalant towards the aesthetics of cubicle decor, or, decorate with geeky items. I have a geeky stress buster and a table lamp I bought from Think Geek. Word did spread and now a few more of my colleagues using think geek products. They have every office supply with a signature geeky look, from coffee mug to pen to mouse pad. Surely they speak for your taste and lifestyle.
- The items that should be on a man’s desk at minimum are: a computer (if you need one), a notebook, a pen holder, office supplies within your reach, a picture in a photo frame, a coffee/tea cup, and a few well-organized books that fit the domain of your work. A desk calendar (not hanging ones) adds tremendous value to the overall look.
- A man (and woman) should keep books on display. I keep books on Java, software engineering, and leadership on my desk. Remember, hardcover books look better than weak paperback ones. Also, keeping a few well-known books by famous authors enhances your image as an intellectual person.
- In my personal opinion, a book titled “The Power of Positive Thinking” is much more appealing than a book with a title like “How to Control Stress.” Choose your books judiciously.
- An often ignored aspect of your office decoration is your computer’s screen saver and desktop background. Pictures of flowers look nice, but try to avoid them in your man cubicle. The image should reflect your personality.
- Things to put away: computer bag, food, salt/pepper shakers, confidential files, unnecessary funny quotes, toothpicks, ear buds, and personal care items. Keep them in drawers.
- Once I saw a quote in a cubical wall that said, “If you don’t find me, I am gone fishing.” Now this is ridiculous and sure to inspire his manager to go fishing when it comes to year-end performance review. It is one thing to be funny and another to piss everyone off.
- Keeping random items as stress busters helps a lot. Most men prefer sports items as stress busters; a baseball or football goes well with your personality as a physically active man. Who doesn’t know that a man and his connection with everything sports is legendary? No harm in showing off your sports affection but don’t make your desk a sporting hall of fame. Your garage can become one, if you like.
- If you have print outs hanging in the cubicle wall with a pin, make sure they are not torn and wrinkled. If they are too old, hang new prints. It doesn’t take more than a minute. Also, make sure old and outdated prints are taken off. I do hang a print of our system hardware diagram. I do change it every 6 months. Do not keep too many of such hang ins. If possible you can laminate before hanging them.
- Keep the keyboard and monitor screen clean. Wet wipes are excellent tools to dust off these two things. You can turn the key board upside down to get rid of the particles. It’s amazing how many hairs and food items get in to my key board, every time I turn it upside down.
Be a man and decorate like a man and an executive. I am sure your colleagues including your boss will all be impressed with your well decorated this will give an impression that you care about every details at work.. Make a statement about your personality and make your own stay comfortable within your cubicle.
Readers, how your cubicles look? Do they make statement about you as a person? How do you take good care of your cubicle?