“Does it seem like your co-workers always stop by and engage in idle chit chat especially when you are up against a deadline or just need to get work done?”
“So many of us have resorted to extreme measures like blocking our cubicle entryway with ugly shower curtains, potted plants, and other objects.”
(Actually, in my 15 years in the working world, including at many places chock full of cubicles, I have never seen a single ugly shower curtain or potted plant erected as a cubicle barrier. But nevermind that).
“Now there’s an easy, professional way to let your co-workers know you need time to focus. CubeGuard installs in seconds in most cubicles or entryways. Once installed, simply pull a ‘Please Do Not Disturb’ banner to the opposite side of your entryway to prevent interruptions. If you’re out of the office, out to lunch or working from home, use CubeGuard to let people know where you are.”
NPR reported yesterday on the existence of CubeGuard, whose website offers the information above (without commentary, which is purely mine). The idea, of course, is to keep people away. But consider this: If you pull that strip across your cube, might you actually be subjecting yourself to even more interruptions from all the people who just have to stop by to ask where you got the thing and how much it cost and then want to chuckle with you about it, as if you have time?
There are standard messages like “Please Do Not Disturb,” and “Working from Home,” and “Out of the Office.” Some versions come with cheerful emoticons. (In my view, the smiley face, even with a zipper for a mouth, sends too much of a mixed message. You want these people to leave you alone.)
You can also craft a custom message, which introduces a question of etiquette: How rude can, or should, you be? (A New Yorker profile of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in March revealed that he has a nameplate in his office that says “Undersecretary for Go Fuck Yourself.” Perhaps he could put that message on a CubeGuard and pull it across his office door).
CubeGuard says that this is serious, that it’s a matter of productivity, that it’s a matter of a company’s bottom line. A study from the research firm Basex found that workers lose as much as 28 percent of their workday to interruptions and the time it takes to recover from them. That’s a lot of time!
Try the CubeGuard Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator to see how much your company could save in productivity today.