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A large, open room (or an entire floor) in an office which is segmented over and over again, like some kind of fractal labyrinth, into tiny walled cubicles. The room is then completed with banal motivational posters, Muzak-pumping ceiling speakers, cheap office furniture, and at least sixty half-motivated employees. The net effect is like a cross between a shantytown and a maze for lab rats.

A cubicle farm is the worst possible way to extract work from a large number of office employees. The reason for this is that the very nature of the room is to simply absorb creativity, ambition, and goal-orientedness. The managers to whom the employees ultimately answer are far away in closed-door offices. The supervisors to whom the employees immediately answer are given the same closed, cramped quarters as the wage slaves. The cubicle walls, carpeting, ceiling, and furniture are all neutrally colored and uniformly dull. It's impossible to locate another employee without an aerial map of the room. If you sit in one, waiting attentively in front of your computer monitor as the corporate screen saver bounces around the display, you can actually feel the life draining out of your body.

Most (but not all) offices allow their employees to customize their cubicles to suit their individual taste. Typically this involves a uniform distribution of baby photos (to make you long for home), Dilbert cartoons (because misery loves company), company calendars (so you can count the days till the next three-day weekend), and Post-It Notes. The occasional younger employee adds a small collection of action figures and Nerf guns to their cabinets in order to maintain an air of youthful exuberance. This is invariably short-lived.

Not all cubicle rooms are cubicle farms, in the same way that not all vegetable gardens are cornfields. It's possible to keep a room small enough, open enough, diverse enough, and colorful enough to keep it interesting and actually encourage creativity and hard work instead of stifling it. However, your average corporation will ignore this option in favor of cramming as many employees as they can into the smallest possible space without violating federal labor laws.

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