Cubie Interruption

| March 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

Another day at work, staring at the computer screen or the cloth covered walls of your cube. If it wasn’t for lunch, coffee breaks (or smoke breaks if you hate life that much), and the meetings you must attend, you could completely cocoon up and actually complete some of those tasks that have been lagging behind schedule.

That is of course if your neighboring cubies would stop interrupting you. I am not speaking (actually that’s correct, I’m not speaking, I’m typing, but that is not the point) about the morning “How are you doing?” or the mid-morning “You should really read this article.” or even the 3:00PM “Did you see last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, yet?” Those are the friendly, possibly educational, interruptions that make working in a cube world bearable.

The cube world interruptions I’m typing (see got it right this time) about now, are the things like: talking loudly or for extended periods of time on personal calls, playing loud music, making delicious smelling food and not sharing it with me, making bodily noises and smells (coughing, sneezing, farting, poor hygiene, whistling, singing, drumming, tapping, clicking), or entering your cube and just standing there… watching you.

Occasionally, some of these interruptions originate from everyone and are excusable (an occasional sneeze or quick personal conversation). But the habitual interrupter or certain specific interruptions are a problem which must be addressed.

The first step in addressing an interruption issue is to confront the interrupter; maybe they are unaware of the issue all together. So try and work it out. Sometimes just suggesting an alternative is all it takes.

So if your co-cubie likes to listen to music loudly, suggest they turn it down, or use a pair of earphones, or at least ask if it is okay with you and the other cubies in the area, maybe even agree on a music style or swap it around from person to person.

Suggest to a fellow cubie which spends an inordinate amount of time on loud personal calls that they hang up and call back from their mobile phone in the hall or parking lot, so as not to disturb their fellow workers.

If someone needs a bath, tell them (nicely, you don’t need to make a thing out of it).

If someone is sick coughing/wheezing/sneezing, they shouldn’t be passing it around anyway, send them home.

And if someone is just standing there watching you work… well… there’s usually nothing you can do about it, because it is typically you’re boss. You can try to respectfully inform him/her how being watched is negatively affecting your work, but you may just have to get used to it. My suggestion, an iPod and headphones are great for ignoring people.

If speaking with an interrupter about specific controllable interruptions is not working, it is time to get other people involved. You and other neighboring cubies can gang up on the interrupter (intervention anyone), you can inform the interrupter’s boss or HR, you can learn to ignore it (iPods rock), you can turn it into a game (keep track the interuptions and take a shot for each AFTER work), or just laugh at it (loud personal calls are often funny to outsiders).

Finally, are you an interrupter? Pay attention to what you are doing in your cube during the day. Also, pay attention to how others deal with these issues. Have you noticed them quickly leave the area holding their phone in their hand, or after eating a lot of broccoli (it still smells like work instead of methane)? These are queues on how you should deal with similar situations. Always remember the rule: Cubies must be considerate of others in the farm, don’t interrupt the work flow with overt sound, site, or smell.

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Category: Rules for Work

Phil Jackson

About the Author ()

Philip "Phil" Jackson has determined that the biggest problem in the world is stupidity. "Most people don't seem to have basic Common Sense, but if they have a list of rules to follow, I have found that they will do so willingly." So after years of experience living he has decided to help out the ignorant by compiling the missing life rules into an easy to read and understandable format.

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