At work, some time ago, we had contractors doing a build-out of new offices right beside our cube farm. This got me thinking, why can’t we all have offices? Along with this consideration, I am always hearing from the vampires in my group about how horrible the lighting is. Everyone wants the light to be cut to 50% or less. I’m not in that group. I like light. I brainstormed a new product idea to help us all.
Why does a company build cubicles and not not all offices? Some reasons could be:
- Layout flexibility
- Increased communication, for better or worse
- Increased oversight
Why do employees want offices and dislike cubicles?
- Increased privacy
- More environmental control (light/temperature/décor)
- Sense of ownership
So what’s the difference between a cube and an office?
- Walls to the ceiling
- Windows or lack of windows
- Basically, enclosure.
So let’s completely forget about convincing management to let their subordinates shut themselves behind a door. I walk a tight line between being controlling and liberal, and with the co-workers I have, allowing a closed door is simply an invitation to sleep all day.
So if we can’t have doors, we can create enclosure by raising the walls to the ceiling. This, however, would create serious issues with lighting, temperature, and airflow. So, my idea is to lower the ceiling to the cube: CubeRoof.
The biggest design point of CubeRoof would be the modular, minimal pieces involved in the system. Taking cues from both IKEA and ClosetMaid, the CubeRoof system would be cheap and easy.
The first element of any roof is the truss. The truss is comprised of three straight elements and three angles. To simplify the system, there are a small number of extendable aluminum beams, similar to “cargo bars”, in varying maximum lengths. This comprise the angles of the truss and the support beams between them. Then, there are adjustable angle brackets that connect the beams. The adjustability allows any peak or pitch of the roof. The angle brackets have a lip for attachment to the top of the cubicle wall, and a post to accept another beam to connect trusses.
Finally, the roof material is simple nylon fabric sheets connected to the trusses and to each other with Velcro. Having different lengths, widths, and colors provides for an endless combination of roof styles. Light color fabrics for diffused light, dark colors for light blocking. Inset screens for ventilation and panels for adjustable “skylights.” Aftermarket and customizing possibilities could be large.
I would estimate one CubeRoof requiring three interconnected trusses, which would be eight straight bars, nine angle connectors, and two properly-sized roof panels. Of course, I’m not going to build it. That would be for someone much better than me, if you believe in the power of capitalism.