Be a Better Employee: How To Decorate Your Office Cubicle

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.

Image courtesy Alibaba.com

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 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

  1. Know the rules and regulations at your job. Any offensive quotations, memorabilia, or images could lead to loss of your job.
  2. Printouts are the biggest cause of clutter on your desk. Discard all papers when they outlive their purpose.
  3. 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.
  4. You can decorate for free. Look for garage sales to accumulate small office equipment that still works.
  5. 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.
  6. Do not place items in such a way that your visitors can’t see you while talking.
  7. Too much decoration is bad – well, at least to me.
The above rules apply to any cubicle organization, man or woman. However, there are certain things that make a cubicle a real man’s cubicle that can raise the eyebrows of men and women alike, your boss or your janitor alike.

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 good in a man cubicle.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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?

is a husband and working as a software professional for a Fortune 100 corporation in Florida. Thanks for visiting the blog.

You can receive free full-text articles from One Cent at a Time in your email inbox, on the days we publish fresh content, by entering your email below. Your email will only be used for subscription, and each email will include a link you may use to unsubscribe at any time. You can also become our Facebook fan or follow us via Twitter

Comments

  1. W says

    I have to say, this is your second post in a short amount of time that I have found sexist in a way that shows poor taste. (The other was the shopping post.) Some finance bloggers are real jerks, but you always seemed like a gentleman before. I hope you aren’t trying to increase your hits and readership by emulating those jerks.

    “I am sure your boss, your colleagues, and the blond in the next aisle will all be impressed with your sheer presence at work” doesn’t sound like you. Is the focus of your blog on finance and getting ahead, or on attracting women? Is that how you see women in the workplace? Is the blond [sic] in the next aisle not your colleague too?

    Based on what I have read of your work, I don’t think that’s really how you see women. I suspect you have been looking at these other popular bloggers who have a big readership and you see the kind of jokes they make and their worldview. (It isn’t just that last comment that bothers me, but the painting of women’s cubicles with a broad brush and the statements about what is “manly”.) You don’t need to write like them to be successful. Frugal Dad, just as an example, doesn’t stoop to that kind of thing. Neither does Man vs. Debt. Both have many, many readers.

  2. says

    W thanks a lot for eye opening comment. The last statement about blond is to add some humor to the serious discussion above. Unknowingly if I have made sexist remarks, I apologize for that. I am not a sexist in any way. I have written articles in the past which shows I am not..”16 ways to show your wife you care” is one of them I can remember right now.

    Yes blond is a colleague to but the whole intention is to induce humor. About women decorating their own way, is in fact a reality. There is nothing wrong or bad about that. This article is just for decorating a man cubicle.

    I am straightway taking down the blond piece out.

  3. says

    You are way too manly for me! black and shades of blue are man colors? A real dour man that is. :)
    My cube is a mess, but I just don’t care enough to do anything. If I have a nicer office, I would put more energy into it. This little cube is just a dump and putting a lipstick on the pig isn’t going to help much.
    I shove all the junk into drawers and try to leave only essentials on the table.

    • says

      Haha.. so you are a vibrant color man..Go as it fits your personality and choice. After all its you have to spend hours in it. Try your best. Can’t understand how only essential papers is making your cubicle messy. You fit in it properly, right Joe?

  4. says

    All right… my cubicle is a mess because we are swamped with projects and paperwork. I don’t have time to organize and file and make it all neat looking. I need to work! :) One day (I keep telling myself) I will MAKE time and file all that paper away. One day… It’s been years now!

  5. says

    The cubicle is like a summary of who you are. Just by looking at it, you’ll know what kind of a person owns it. I’ve seen really flashy ones, with all this crazy stuff. Definitely a girl fresh out of college.

  6. Ron says

    It is so easier to forget that it is those simple things that matter the most. Trying to take on an enormous goal like saving 50% of ones’ income with the goal can seem overwhelming; but learning to improve that office space is much more more doable :).

    • says

      Saving 50% is a stretch goal and can be achieved by either increasing your paycheck or cutting down your big spending including home and car. It is doable. I agree easier said than done. Let’s organize the desk for now

  7. christine says

    I don’t think being organized is an especially manly thing to do and I don’t think it added much to your article frame it that way. With that said, your suggestions were quite helpful and practical.

  8. man says

    A real man doesnt let some douche’s expectations of what should and should not be in “a man’s cubicle” limit what’s actually in his cubicle.

  9. irene says

    Hi SB,

    Nice writeup.

    At the end of the day one has to leave their desk neat and tidy. You see the CEO’s, Directors etc. they all make time for their desks and make sure to leave it organised at the end of a working day. And hold a sec! not everything is done by their secreteries or office stuff…

    Remember one thing even if we dont want to acknowledge, a persons character is what they executes themselves, leaving the desk neat at the end of a working day only highlights it :)

    so good luck to folks who already do and still feel its okay to leave their desks untidy. choice and fingers are all urs..

Leave a Reply