Office Design

5 Ways Workers Can Make the Office Cubicle Their Own

David Spence
July 2nd, 2014

Cubicles Don’t Have to Be Boring

There are two ways for workers to approach the office cubicle, which recently just turned 50. They can see it as a gray, drab box that confines them for eight hours a day.

Or, they can see it as a blank canvas, one that’s theirs to customize and make more comfortable and home-like.

In other words, cubicles can be an exercise in creativity—a way to “tell your story,” as an HBR blog said.

Below are five ways that workers can do just that.

1. Browse garage sales and flea markets

Garage sales and flea markets are both cheap and easy means for finding interesting decorations that your coworkers won’t have on their desks. Things you could look for:

  • Sheets or curtains to cover your walls
  • Action figures
  • Posters
  • Paintings
  • Postcards
  • Art books (tear out the work you like and hang it up)
  • Comic books
  • Sports jerseys or baseball caps
  • Records

Really, anything is up for grabs if it can be pinned to a wall or will fit on your desk.

(Bonus tip: Another place to get posters could be a local university. Schools often hold poster sales during the beginning of the school year. )

2. Find an interesting desktop image

There’s nothing wrong nature photos and abstract images that come with every computer. However, you can add even more of your own personality to your cubicle by finding an unusual image for your desktop background.

There’s always the classic option: the personal photograph of friends and family.

Additionally, you could use work from favorite painter or photographer, but Lifehacker also has a list of good spots to find desktop wallpaper—including one site with wallpaper designed for dual-screen users.

3. Green it up

Plants have lots of benefits besides adding color; they can also be mood-boosters.

According to one study observing plants’ effects on workers, tension, depression and anxiety all decreased, thanks to the office greenery.

Because they filter the air, plants can also decrease sickness, and they’re said to make people work more quickly and efficiently.

There are several options that don’t need too much maintenance, including bamboo, cacti and spider plants.

4. Stock snacks

Personalizing your cubicle doesn’t have to stop with its appearance.

You can also make it yours by stocking up the foods that fuel you.

Whether it’s granola bars, almonds or fruit, having snacks can curb the temptation to get a Danish from the vending machine.

If you really crave a good cup of coffee, you may want to do what one blogger does and set up a French press to kick off your mornings.

5. Paper the walls

If you’re decorating on a shoestring budget, try scouring the Internet, as well as your household and even local businesses for decorations.

For example, you could think of some of your favorite sayings and include them in your office space—they’re just a quick Internet search away.

You can also cut out comic strips from newspapers, artwork your children have made or even gift wrap if you can’t find fabric to cover up the wall.

For a decoration that’s both unique and practical, snag a copy of the take-out menu of a nearby restaurant that delivers. Not only will you have something with local flavor, you can also use it when you’re craving Chinese, or Indian or whatever.

Of course, any decorations that relate to your personal history are also good options, including school paraphernalia and pictures of family and friends. Getting decorating ideas beyond putting up pictures of friends and family can be difficult, though. So if you work in an office where the cubicle still dominates, forward this blog to your coworkers and see what they do with it.

photo credit: Royal Sapien via photopin cc