Monday, April 14, 2003

Nonergonomic! Dilbert's Ultimate Cubicle

Nonergonomic! Dilbert's Ultimate Cubicle
[人因工程 ]

Dilbert's Ultimate Cubicle

"Over the years, DILBERT fans have e-mailed me on all sorts of topics. And after a while, I began to realize that a common theme among the majority of them was the fact that most people are highly frustrated with their cubicles. So I started to think, 'What would DILBERT want in a cubicle? And how could that in turn translate into a solution for every employee?' And I think the result is that we've figured out a possible way to do that."
-- Scott Adams

Scott Adams has partnered with IDEO, the company that designed the Palm V, the first Apple computer mouse, the original laptop computer and Crest's Neat Squeeze stand-up toothpaste tube, to create the ultimate cubicle. The "kit of parts" allows employees to customize their workspaces according to their needs.

Editor's Comments:

My very first impulse upon discovering this web page was to click on the drawings and photographs. I wanted to know right away whether long-time cubicle critic Adams and the experienced ID professionals at IDEO got it right. I realize of course that "Dilbert's Ultimate Cubicle" was intended primarily as social satire, therefore I ought not to take the "design project" too literally. Nevertheless I couldn't help wondering whether the Adams/IDEO alternative would be plagued by the same defects bedeviling the worst of the mass-produced cubicles.

I'm happy to say it isn't. Adams and IDEO at least got the fundamentals right. One: The occupant sits entirely within the cubicle. Two: His back does not face the cubicle entrance, but is instead protected by one of the cubicle walls. These two features alone are cause for celebration. That the cubicle incorporates a host of frivolous, tongue-in-cheek gimmicks for humorous effect is of secondary importance next to this.

Notice also that the back walls are high enough to shield the back of the occupant's head from view. This feature is notably lacking in the "So-so Cubicle," the real life example cited in "Nonergonomic! The Cubicle from Hell."

An additional, qualified plus is the modular cubicle wall construction, which permits a degree of user customization. I say qualified because while designers may often incorporate highly desirable features such as this into their designs, whether employees are actually allowed to exercise their free choice often remains at the mercy of company policy-makers.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Dilbert's Ultimate Cubical
Illustration(s): Final Design. Ideo Cube
Author: Scott Adams
Publication Date: 2003
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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