Cube city vs. the field: what’s really the difference?


by @DavidAPortney

So I’ll stray a bit from my usual digital media blog to talk about a hot topic amongst professionals all ages, shapes, fields and industries:  cubicles.

Just uttering the word leads people to think of the image above of endless, boring and 9-5 punch the clock jobs that offer zero excitement and variety.  Most of you express your desire to break out of the cube and “into the field” without having a strong understanding of that lifestyle.  Well, prior to working in a cube for the last three years at the AVCA, I spent the previous two years working with various sports teams (Tri-City ValleyCats, New York Giants and Memphis Redbirds) where I had a desk, but spent the majority of time far, far from it.

This “grass is greener on the other side” phenomena leaves people dreaming, but I’ve lived it and I’m here to break down the three main differences between the two worlds:

(Note, this is a general breakdown of my personal experiences.  I understand there are always exceptions so don’t freak out on me.)

1)  Physical activity.  I’m not here to judge, but if you have a slew of health problems and/or are significantly overweight, you will physically have a difficult time performing your job.  While working for the Redbirds, during the game we were not allowed to use any of the elevators in the park, need I say more?  It didn’t matter if you were in sales, an intern, or the general manager…you had to use the stairs even if you were in the basement going to the third floor.  So if breaking a sweat and being on your feet for hours on end sounds daunting, it’s best to stick with the cube.

I know what some of you are thinking, “Dave you worked in sports so that’s skewing your opinion.  You work with jocks and other fit people who love sports.”  Fair point, but athletics are a multi-billion dollar industry that employs the most talented workers regardless of their athletic build just like in any other industry.  So the way I look at it, if my opinion is applicable to a multi-billion dollar industry then it’s applicable to any industry.

Compared to cube life:  It’s physically easier, which can be good and deadly.  Many studies show sitting for 8-9 hours per day is a key factor in causing depression, high blood pressure and other health issues, so if you are an active person you’ll have to change your lifestyle.  Once I got this desk job, I completely changed my diet and exercise habits because I no longer was able to burn it off running around at my job.

2)  Unorthodox hours.  This is probably the most underrated aspect of a non-desk job.  If your occupation takes you out of an office and into the field, odds are you’re not punching in at nine and out at five.  There were many evenings I wouldn’t make it home until 2AM just to be back in the office in five hours.  I’m not saying every day was like that, but it happens far more often than in traditional desk jobs.

The point being if you’re not passionate about the job this is the time it will be exposed.  You’ll realize you actually want to hang out with your friends on a regular basis, attend that yoga basics class on Thursday evenings and not have your off-day be a Tuesday when everyone’s at work.  For me, I loved my jobs and thought there was nothing better than hearing the crack of a wooden bat or the roar of a crowd be my “office.”  Spending many weekend nights working was a trade-off I was happy to make because I had a true passion for it.

Food for thought:  this would obviously be a struggle if you have a family.

Compared to cube life:  Simply put, you have the opportunity to actually have a life with a traditional desk job.  You don’t let your career define you as a person, and you live an active lifestyle once you pull out of the parking lot.  Eating dinner at a normal hour and seeing friends and family is all you!

I’ll take this time to remind everyone these thoughts aren’t one size fits all.  Obviously you can have a desk job that defines you as a person, which is fine, but I’m trying to speak to the masses here.

3)  Relationships with co-workers and clients.  When you live in cube city or have an office, it can be easy to stare at your computer all day, say “good morning” to your co-workers and that be enough to get through the day, but that won’t cut it in the field.  You will need the cooperation of everyone you work with in order to accomplish the task at hand…there are very few exceptions with this one.  I for one can’t think of one job that requires you to be out and about while also being completely on your own – even a door-to-door salesman needs to interact in order to do the job.  So if you are not a people-person and don’t work well with others, stick to the desk.

Compared to cube life:  I’m not saying this is necessarily an either-or point, but there are plenty of occupations that involve one person doing the job alone and those are at a desk.  There are obviously desk jobs that require teamwork, mine certainly is one of them, but ones that are not are few and far between in the field.

(image courtesy of


About dportmedia

As of early 2018, I’m re-branding this blog page to hopefully shed some light on the how and why we’re seeing what we’re seeing on all media platforms. I don’t profess to have all of the answers, but hopefully we can have meaningful and cordial discourse on the topics most relevant to all of us. The goal is to make this 75% on sport media and 25% current events and politics. Follow me on Twitter @DavidAPortney
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