The Declining Health of the Cubicle Minion

My workplace may be trying to kill me

Eileen Wiedbrauk
Published in
8 min readOct 28, 2021


Photo: GettyImages

The thing I hated most about my former desk job wasn’t the mixed messages from management. It wasn’t that my butt was parked in a dark, windowless cubicle in the kind of space where plants slowly die under florescent light. It wasn’t that tasks saw constant interruption, to the point where achieving a Flow State was as likely as a unicorn walking through the office.

No, the thing I hated the most about my desk job was that in the 18 months following my hire, I gained 30 lbs.

Thirty. Whole. Pounds.

An average gain of 3–4 lbs per month, or 13.6 kg of net gain in a year and a half if you’d prefer to read my pain in metric increments.

I’m not even rounding up for emphasis — just rounding out until I needed new pants.

This isn’t vanity — this is a health concern

My stomach pain was the worst it had ever been. My chronic back pain was the worst it had ever been. My triglycerides finally reached the threshold where my doctor stopped saying, “let’s keep an eye on that,” and started saying, “you need to make some changes.”

If this were just about buying new pants, I would have grumbled, bought the damn pants and gotten over it. But my health concerns won’t be fixed with a new pair of slacks.

My employer certainly won’t help. Ultimately the health and happiness of the employee is still the employee’s responsibility in most of the US. Some companies have decided they have a role or even the majority of the responsibility, but not so in my particular land of cubicles.

I am always fascinated by companies with on-site gyms or who pay health club memberships for their employees. Even the ones who do successful wellness programs with almost no budget have my awe. They create incentivized weekly team and individual challenges or similar. My former employer (I think) offers a discount to some commercial gym in town, but the discount is so pitiful that I’d probably get a better deal if I waited for a sales flyer to hit my mailbox. There’s a Weight Watcher’s discount. Again, a pittance. Oprah’s commercials present a bigger monetary incentive to join.



Eileen Wiedbrauk
Writer for

Writer. Geek. Coffee addict. Former editor. MFA grad. Odyssey Workshop alum. Library fangirl. Escaped cubicle minion. Home cook. On a mission for better health.