Response Crafting

Why does corporate space suck so much?

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What the hell happened with corporate space? I mean, seriously, who dropped the ball on that?

We spend – what, like a third? – of our days at work and, for most of us, this means a “corporate setting” – you know the spaces; the ones that involve all of the cubicles and the offices and the color putty absolutely everywhere.

And, given that so many of us spend so much of our time in these spaces, you would think that these spaces would be slightly better. But they’re not. They’re outright horrible. And I am not really sure why. It pains me that nobody has bothered to created a work space that doesn’t suck all that is beautiful and good from people who work there, while they are in it.

Don’t we deserve better? Don’t people deserve to be in better spaces when they go to work?

And sure, some lines of work are more innately associated with beautiful or unique or interesting spaces – I am thinking of the horse trainer or the cake baker or the trauma surgeon. I’m sure that you can think of several more.

But overall, on the whole, we build horrible environments for ourselves and then we accept them. And it is killing all of us. Slowly.

Some might argue that it is meant to.

It should come as no surprise to you that much of the work world – that is, the physical environment in which we do our work – is designed deliberately and specifically to instill in us a sense of convention and, as such, cement a sense of conformity.

The division of personal space, for example – and the difference between offices and cubicles (the former only being glorified versions of the latter) not only represents the hierarchy and solidifies it, but is also serves as a constant daily reminder of our place in it, which, for most people, is at the bottom.

And then there is: the color putty. I despise the color putty. It is not even beige or khaki or tan or even gray that is used most often in corporate space. It is putty.

On the surface, putty is meant to be “inoffensive,” “neutral,” and “unobtrusive” – and those are the exact values, incidentally, it instills on those surrounded by it. It silences creativity; dampens and subdues all inspiration. It kills the human spirit – it is the color of lifelessness.

I know that many organizations “need” these sort of spaces and that many people, in turn, sort of like them – and the structure, certainty and consistency that their cubicle world promises.

And that is okay. But even for those who value these sort of things – those most likely to be in a corporate world to begin with – don’t they deserve something that is simultaneously beautiful? Even if the structure makes the work more efficient (and the hierarchies more clear), don’t we still deserve to have an inspiring space in which to do it?

If we are giving a third of our lives to a space, we deserve one that makes those lives a little better, not worse.


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