Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Cubicle Burnout Straight Out of ‘Office Space’

The antics and issues in Office Space are even more relevant in 2011 than they were in 1999 when the movie was released. Today, employees sit more, work in smaller office spaces, and are more secluded from others. If we’re not careful, we’re going to gradually become less productive due to our small, boring, and dark office spaces!

So how can you keep your energy up, and get more work done than ever before? How can you combat sleepiness and feel more motivated? How can we all avoid feeling like Peter Gibbons and expressing ourselves with the following quote: “I don’t like my job, and I don’t think I’m gonna go anymore”? By taking tips from Office Space into your own cube, that’s how!

Things you can do to prevent cubicle burnout right from the start:

  • Decorate your cubicle! Make it fun and colorful (no plain gray walls here)! Basically, you’ll want to do the opposite of what the cubes in Office Space look like. Check out 12 fun cubicle ideas here if you need some inspiration. Although those 12 ideas are on the extreme side and most likely not even possible at your place of employment, they’ll still get you thinking. Come on people, find something to spice up your space! Why spend 40+ hours a week in a plain-Jane cube? Personalize it and give it some life! It will make you feel happier, more productive, and less like a work robot.
  • Keep a good attitude, unlike most of the people in Office Space. No “I’m not lazy, I just don’t care” attitudes allowed! Stay positive and do the best you can. It will always make you feel better, more awake, and proud of yourself—plus hopefully the boss notices, so it can awaken your paychecks too! Not to mention, always be thinking, “Is this good for the company?” That way you can avoid “the Bobs” and keep your job nice and secure.

When your productivity drops, try these tips:

  • Change your task! For example, you could switch from a spreadsheet project to scheduling your next meeting or finishing typing up that letter. Changing gears will keep your mind alert and less likely to get bored. Play some music or snag some songs that are more up-tempo than what you’re already listening to. Sometimes a slow song will make you tired and feel more drained. Or, just do something fun to liven things up! “So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans”….it will break the monotony at least!
  • Move! Get up, walk around, or stretch. Stretching helps keep the blood and oxygen flowing throughout your body and helps keep you feeling awake and refreshed! So get up, stretch, or walk to the fax machine every couple of hours. Hopefully you can avoid a “PC Load letter—What the f*ck does that mean?” or “No, not again…. why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?” type of scenario!
  • Talk with your co-workers! Be social. Share a story or joke. Ask them how their weekend was. Lighten up the atmosphere and get to know your cubemates. Recall the scene in Office Space where Samir, Michael Bolton, and Tom are all discussing the “Jump to Conclusions Mat” and the pet rock being a million-dollar idea. It’s really not wasting much time if it makes your whole day more productive.

You don’t have to quit your job or simply stop going because you’re feeling burned out. Try the tips I’ve mentioned here before making any rash and potentially catastrophic decisions about your career! Sometimes, all you need is a boost in your work environment to refresh your creativity.

What other tips can you think of to prevent cubicle burnout? How do you keep your day lively? Any other Office Space tips and quotes come to mind?

Image Credits


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Mandy K

    Great post, Amanda! Watch out, your neighbor might just try and recreate that war room cubicle.

    • ASneed

      hahahaha, you could wear a camo shirt and I wouldn’t know if you were over there or not. And the booby trapped chair, genius! =)

      • Mandy K

        Revised plan: Princess castle.

        Pink tulle, throne desk chair (still booby trapped), twinkly lights, and even more pink tulle.

  2. Jana Quinn

    I think decorating a cubicle is one of the best ways to feel less “trapped” at work. Having your own things around gives you a sense of ownership and comfort. Photos of loved ones are my favorite things to have on my desk.

    Stretching and walking around – even if it’s a two minute lap around the “cubeville” – is also fantastic for getting the blood flowing and waking you up in that early afternoon slump.

    Great blog, Amanda, but we’re gonna need you to come in on Saturday… 😉

    P.S. Does anyone actually know what PC LOAD LETTER means??

    • JPorretto

      …And Sunday as well…. mmmmk?

    • ASneed

      Agreed! I need color in my cube! =)

      • ASneed

        I meant that I agree that cubes should be colorful and decorated, not agreeing to work the weekend, lol.

        PC Load Letter…I have no clue!

  3. Bret Bonnet

    One thing to add here – when if feeling kind of tired at the office I find YELLING at my computer tends to help and/or get the blood flowing again.

    There is nothing like a good old “F*ck you computer!” to liven things up a little.

    I’ve never understood WHY people don’t take more time to decorate their office/cubes. Hang a poster. Frame a picture of your child for all to see – ANYTHING but those plain old grey walls.

    I think we need to convince Kurt/Eric to spice up their work space. a little. For being techie guys their office is pretty low tech and boring if you ask me. If anything – hang a picture of Pamela Anderson from her Bay Watch days and write “My Wife” on it! – anything to spice that place up a little (and Eric, you could even hang an old TNMT poster since you like GREEN so much!).

    • That Guy At Work

      Damnit Bret!!!!! There’s barely anything green in my office!!!!!

      I find cursing Bret’s name under my breath helps me get through the day. J/K! 😉

      • ASneed

        Funny….I was just telling Eric yesterday that they have a nice big office, and it’s awesome that they have windows. He was like, “yeah, we never use them”, lol.

  4. JPorretto

    I think you and I could have a never ending Office Space conversation if we wanted. I just…. I just love that movie. I bought the Blu-Ray this past Sunday for $5 at Best Buy with their trade in program. I don’t even buy movies anymore because of Netflix, but I just had to do it! I also have a Red Swingline Stapler T-Shirt. Oh Milton… you crazy Pyro…

    • ASneed

      Yes, yes we could! I love Office Space. =) “Ever have someone say to you, sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays? No, shit no man, I believe you can get your ass kicked for saying something like that man!” ahahahaha

  5. Joseph Giorgi

    Great suggestions, Amanda!

    Switching tasks is a common tactic I like to employ when I need to break up the monotony of working on a given project for a long period of time. Staying in one continuous thought-pattern for too long is unhealthy (and can be unproductive as well), so it’s good to change things up once in a while. Great post!

    By the way, that link was crazy! Those are some seriously decked-out cubicles over at Pixar and Google!

  6. cyberneticSAM

    I completely agree! The whole decorating is very important to me, I mean we sepnd more time in our offices then at home, so I think it helps to have some things around that make you happy. I would loved to do an overhaul and ZEN my space that way it helps kill two birds with one stone, stress reducing, pretty space to help motivate you through your day. Great Post!

  7. Jill Tooley

    But everyone teases me for having a decked-out office! 🙁

    I can’t stand naked cube walls. If I wanted to stare at grey padding all day, I’d just have myself committed! My posters, drawings, doodads, and multicolored lights keep me going throughout my work day. Plus, they’re surefire conversation pieces. People always like to stop and ask me questions about something on display! In a way, our decorations are like windows into our souls. Or is that the eyes? I can never remember.

    Great post! I’m always down for some Office Space!

    Bob: “How much time would you say you spend each week dealing with these T.P.S. reports?”

    Lumbergh: “Yeah…”

    • JPorretto

      “our decorations are like windows into our souls”

      I think this may just be true! I enjoy simplicity, keeping things straight to the point, and I despise clutter. That’s a nice summary of my office decor…

    • ASneed

      Jill, did you get the memo? Your office is awesome! =)

      And thanks! This blog was so much fun to write!

  8. Juliette

    Love this post, Amanda! I’m all about decorating my desk space. I can’t resist and it’s nice to have things surrounding me that make me smile: (can you spot the red Swingline stapler?)

    I also switch out tasks whenever I feel like i’m about to hit a wall. It’s an excellent suggestion to break up a busy day. (on a side note, I may not wear a Hawaiian shirt but I do tend to wear mismatched colorful striped socks. Every time I happen to look down and see them I can’t help but grin.)

    One thing I’ve noticed that really helps is that I enjoy taking my breaks and lunches outside the office building (either in my car with the windows down or on the picnic table). There’s something about being outside, even just for 10 minutes, that can recharge my batteries. 🙂

    • ASneed

      Thanks Juliette! This blog was in the works for a while…I was glad to finally get it posted.

      Agreed! Outside air helps me recharge too! Even in the winter, that sunshine makes me smile.

  9. Kyle

    Hmmm… I suppose my cube could use some decorating… Now that I think of it the walls of my room are COVERED with posters so why not share the love a little bit?

    And switching tasks? I totally agree with this one. If my brain feels like mush after working on an assignment for a couple of hours, I’ll switch gears for a little bit and that’s usually enough to give my mind a much needed jump start.

    Oh and there’s something I have to confess… I’ve never seen Office Space… 🙁

    • ASneed

      Ok, so you need to watch Office Space, and I need to watch Star Wars, deal?

      Go for it! Decorated cubes are so much fun! I need to bring in a few more things too. My dog deserves a spot in my cube! =)

  10. LK

    Great post and awesome tips Amanda!
    I like the Dilbert cube, it has panels of whiteboards and light that simulates sunlight around the top of the cube… cool idea! I really should get some decorations put up in my office too.

  11. BBritz

    Amanda, Great Blog! I really enjoyed looking at all those crazy looking cubicle spaces. I also love Office Space too… Hilarious!! “Have you seen my stapler?” After reading this blog I need to really add a lot more too my working space.

  12. Amanda

    Thanks Ben! Yeah, there sure are some fancy-schmancy cubicles out there! Office Space is so great–especially since we all work in offices, makes it that much funnier! For sure–a decorated work space is so much more enjoyable to work in–I’d support your decorations whole heartedly! I even need some more stuff put up in my office. =) Pretty calendars and family photos are what I like to show off most!

  13. Miles

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