Managing from the corner cubicle

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For my day job, I’m a vice president of information technology, and I’m responsible for managing 10 people who answer questions about software, hardware and every thing else that sits on associate’s desks.

Even though I’m a VP, I don’t get a corner office…I get the corner cubicle. And I’d encourage YOU to think about taking the corner cubicle too!

4 reasons why the corner cubicle is better than the corner office

Visibility – It’s normal for me to be at my desk and there is no door, so I have perfect visibility into my team’s functions…and they have visibility into mine. They can quickly see if I’m available or not, and they can ask questions. And I can see what’s going on and offer assistance right away.

Accessibility – Similar to visibility is accessibility. Folks are much more apt to ask me questions when they can see me than if I were hidden away in an office behind a closed door. I want to help, and sitting in a cubicle means few barriers to talking to me.

Knowledge gathering – I can hear what’s going on with my team right away. If I hear a few people buzzing about the same thing, in real-time, I can know what’s going on and if we need to escalate something. It also helps me explain the situation to my manager and our CTO because invariably if something breaks, they want to know about it.

Dive in when needed – With all this visibility and accessibility, I know when it’s time to help out and when it’s time to step back. If things are going crazy, it only takes a second for me to dive in and help out, then I can quickly back away when things normalize.


About the author: By day, Phil Gerbyshak is a vice president of information technology at a regional financial services company headquartered in Milwaukee, WI. By night, Phil is a social media maximizer who helps people learn the tips and tricks they need to take their business and their brand to the next level. You can find more of Phil’s management insights at or by following him on Twitter @philgerb.

  • You make some really good points Nick. It takes a strong person to deal with the negativity, so if folks aren’t strong, they could feel like a lesser manager because of the potentially decreased status instead of a better manager for being more in touch with your team.

    And thanks for saying the nice thing you did about me. I do my best every day to be a better manager. This is one thing I can do to improve my effectiveness and be there for my team.

  • Phil –

    Were that there more managers like you! HP calls that theory of management “leadership by walking around”. It’s crucial in managing an AGILE development team, but more than that – it’s so important in maintaining functional teams to have a leader who is “in the trenches” with everyone else.

    Offices are nice perks, but you WILL become alienated from your team and you WILL lose the respect of your former “peers”. You might not have as nice of a view or as much privacy, but you definitely won’t get alienated because you’re locked off from your team.

    -Nick Armstrong
    Psychotic Resumes

  • Thanks Kristi. I think the trend will happen more and more as companies look to cut costs and improve efficiencies. Offices cost money, hard costs and soft costs, so let’s start the revolution together!

  • Phil: Great thoughts! I’ve worked with a couple managers that subscribed to this school of thought and everyone who has tried it has agreed that they had closer working relationships with their team and were more able to support their staff through the day-to-day grind. From that perspective, the trend towards open space offices is a good one.

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