My cubicle at work has been relocated quite a lot lately. While other coworkers pile all of their belongings into boxes, I’ve made a clear and conscious effort to downsize my clutter. I started cleaning out my desk long before the rumors of layoffs and pink slips started circling. The transition from there to here started slowly. On the first day I brought home old family photos. Over the course of a week I carried home old programming books, just two or three, a day at a time. By the second week I converted old papers to PDFs, and by the end of the month I recycled and shredded just about every paper in my cube. The remainder of my personal items: three or four programming books, a stapler, a couple of pens, plastic silverware and various odds and ends are small enough to fit in a small box that resides inside a cabinet in my cube.
The cubicles next to mine are filled with clutter. My company breeds a sense of loyalty that has kept fellow co-workers here for 10 to 20 years. As employees pin children’s art projects and family photos to makeshift walls their cubicles become a direct extension of their homes. I often wonder if it’s easier to devote yourself to work when you envision the faces of those you are working for or if it becomes more difficult to arrive early and stay late when you peer into the faces of those you love? I wonder how many of my co-workers take their work home with them. Are there as many reminders of work in their homes, as their are of home at their work? Spending more than eight hours at work each day it’s easy to see how the lines become blurred.
As rumors of pink slips whirl through the air I am saddened by the thought of loyal employees filling up their cardboard boxes. This time it won’t be to move to another office or cube. This time they’ll be pulling down artwork and family photos and shipping them home. I think about all of the long nights I have awarded my employer and imagine many employees beside me who have done the same. In relationships they say: “It is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.” I wonder if loyal employees will feel the same. In the end will they feel grateful for the good years they’ve had with the organization or simply bitterness at having been let go?