Corporate Cubicle Politics – Why Size Matters in the Office

March 11, 2007

Would you turn down a bigger office or bigger cubicle if your boss offered it you? I did and now I’m questioning my decision.

The Cubicle Decision
My boss stopped by last week to ask if I wanted to move into a large cube recently vacated when another team leader on our floor moved groups. I quickly answered no way and he proceeded to offer the cube to someone else.

Why I Said No
I opted out of the larger cube for several reasons:

  • A bigger cube is just more space to mess up.
  • Moving cubes would be a pain. I have enough work to do; I don’t want to lose part of a day moving.
  • I didn’t want to give my team the impression I was “more important” than them by moving into a larger cube.

Second Guessing My Decision
During a team meeting later in the day my boss announced the replacement team lead and mentioned he would be moving into the big cube. When visiting with someone after the meeting they mentioned they were sorry I didn’t get the big cube. I then realized that in everyone else’s eyes, I had been passed up in favor of the incoming team lead.

Why Size Matters
Every other team lead on the floor has a big cube. The mental association with progress in the corporate world is that you graduate cubes or offices as you advance. When someone sees you have a larger working space than others they automatically assume you have additional authority, competency, salary, and knowledge. This may result in them giving you preferential treatment.

Right or wrong, this often seems to be the impression the status symbol of an office or cube size indicates. In passing up an opportunity to upgrade, I had also been passing up on this social capital.

Was it a Mistake?
The reasons I listed for turning down the larger cube still apply, but in making this move I’m not playing by the “corporate rules”. Is my goal in life to get a bigger cube or office? No way! However, my goal is to earn more money for my family. Did my cubicle decision lose me social capital that could slow my rise up the corporate ladder?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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4 Responses to Corporate Cubicle Politics – Why Size Matters in the Office

  • Ben

    a0z0ra, I probably didn’t explain it very clearly. I actually already am a team lead, that’s why my boss offered me the larger cubicle. I just turned it down for the reasons I listed.

  • a0z0ra

    I think your boss may indirectly ask you whether you want to be a project team leader.. I may be wrong. Next time maybe you should ask your boss why he chooses you..


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