Thoughtful Thursday: Workspace

February 16, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayI have now officially started my new job. When I arrived, the boss immediately apologized because my office is nowhere near everyone else’s. My team includes two bosses, who each have their own offices with windows, and a woman who directs a subsection of the team. Then there are 4 underlings who all work in one huge room at one big long L-shaped desk that takes up two walls of the huge room. Then there are various people who come in sometimes and sit at the L-shaped desk or at a conference table. And then there’s me. I am neither a boss nor an underling. My work requires more concentration and quiet than the underlings’, so the bosses wanted me to have my own office. But, there was no room in the team’s space, so they found me an office on the other side of the building, which has a few (very quiet!) people who work on different teams, several people who appear to have an office assigned but spend all of their time somewhere else, and many creepily uninhabited rooms. Hence the apology.

Personally I am more than happy not to sit at a big group desk — I try to work well with others, but I do not want to be chatting all day, nor do I want to listen to country music while I work (WTF?). It’s a little annoying when I need something not to be able to catch a boss when they happen to be walking by, and instead have to send an email and wait several hours for a reply. The two minutes it takes me to walk from my office to the team’s space is a good ergonomic break from sitting, so that part doesn’t bother me. There are no windows, but I don’t expect windows as a non-boss, particularly if I’m getting a solo office — a few years ago when given the choice between a dark tiny solo office and a huge beautiful shared office with wall-to-wall windows on a high floor overlooking the entire city, I jumped at the dark tiny solo office. Having my own office is by far my preference, but my new office is so large that one or two other people may join me in the future. Who knows how that will go.

Over the years I have had officemates who became dear friends, officemates that remained strangers, and officemates that became enemies. I have shared space with people I adored and people I couldn’t stand. I’ve had coworkers who helped me accomplish my best work and those who made my work much harder. I’ve been with people who wouldn’t shut up, people who chatted to a pleasant extent, and people who basically never spoke to me.

If you asked all of my past officemates, they’d collectively probably put me into almost all of the above categories.

What kind of workspace would you want to have, if it were up to you?


14 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Workspace”

  1. emk808 Says:

    A clean one!!! I’m such a messy person, so I need space for *everything*. Little cubby holes and organizing pockets and drawers, etc. I need LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of room!!! Shelves, too. I think you get the picture. 🙂

  2. emk808 Says:

    (This is Elana Kahn above from Elana’s Musings…Apparently I’m signed into wordpress…news to me!)

  3. Sara Says:

    I’m really lucky that I have (a) workspace(s) that are very well suited for me. I just went back to work after maternity leave on Monday, though since Gwen doesn’t start day care until March 1 I am still mostly working from home. At home, I’m usually at the table in the living/dining room with my laptop (eventually the attic will be turned into an office but we’re still waiting for furniture, etc., to arrive by boat). This allows me easy access to my books, the kitchen to make tea, my music (on the computer!), and, when Gwen is awake, her, as she can lie on the floor near me. I also usually have a cat on my lap, which is nice.

    When I do get out to campus I have an office with big windows that get sunshine (when it happens!) and a big desk. I really need a big desk to be able to spread out all my papers when I’m in the midst of a big research project, or many projects at once. Right now my officemate is in Pittsburgh for a few months, so it’s just me, which means that I can, and have occasionally, bring Gwen out with me and her lying on the floor playing I know won’t be a distraction to anyone.

    So — big desk, music, tea, a cat if possible, space for my daughter, and sunshine, those are what make a good workspace for me. Colleagues are nice too, but they are neither necessary nor a distraction.

  4. Two Kayaks Says:

    Oh man, I can so relate. In the high school where I teach, there is a large teacher room full of desks, photocopiers, resources, and wall to wall windows. It’s beautiful. Also, it’s busy and packed with chit chatty teachers. Instead of working in there, I chose a closet (literally) called a “book room” at the other end of the school with no windows and only two other teachers sharing a space. It was TOTALLY worth having to walk the length of the school to make a photocopy and when I return to work, that’s where I will be. I need quiet and I don’t have the patience for idle gossip and chat.

  5. St. Elsewhere Says:

    Congrats on your new job….

    I am a windows person….I like the distraction of watching what is happening outside in the world…and the cabin I had, had no windows…it was right at the end of the hall. It was perfect because, people would not be just passing by and stopping to chat…and no curious colleagues would stand behind the half-cabins and try to peek what you were doing on your laptop.

    I would have loved a window…but privacy is the best thing, indeed!

    And I would have liked a quieter setting…there comes a couple of times in the day, when the humdrum reaches epic proportion….

  6. a Says:

    I currently sit in a large room with 2 coworkers. The talking and other noise annoys me (although we did away with the radio years ago, for some reason. Oh yes, I remember, but that is too long a story). I have arranged my things as best as possible, given the space her. There are some plus sides – we have large windows and lots of light.

    We’ll be moving in approximately 1.5 years to a new building. You’d think we’d get better accommodations, but it is not to be. We’ll have the same square footage that we currently have, which is supposed to be adequate space for twice as many people. It’s not adequate for the people we have now. Other sections are more than doubling their space, so I’m not happy about this. Instead of 2 other people, all of the section will be in one office…but we’ll have 5 foot dividers between us. Quiet is important in my ability to concentrate fully. 5 foot dividers are not going to cut it. We’re hoping they’ll spring for the extensions, but it’s not looking good.

    I had a delightful office at the last place. It was spacious. There were only 2 of us. I liked it, although I would have liked some natural light. I can only hope that the new place is tolerable, I suppose…but, on the bright side, the bosses will still be downstairs and out of my hair!

  7. celia Says:

    What I miss from working is having a door that locks.

  8. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    When I was working I wanted a bit of everything. I hated the short cubicle walls when I was actually trying to work. I had to wear headphones to concentrate. But I didn’t like having an office with a door by myself either. I missed the companionship and ability to chat or easily ask a question. I only ever had one office with a window and found it to be mostly a distraction. Also, I hate hate hated having my back to the door. I can’t stand surprises when I’m working (or surfing the web when I’m supposed to be working ;-))

  9. I once was a windows-at-all-costs person, but since working at home, I’ve become a very solitary worker. I like to be as super-productive as I can, and small-talk would interfere with this.

    I would welcome a spacemate like you. Though it might make me become more chatty.

    Hope your new space works out well for you :-).

  10. Heather Says:

    Good luck at the new job! I finally got my favorite type of workspace. I have one of the larger-size cubicles in our area and the one wall is all windows!!!! I love knowing what the weather is like outside. It does keep my spirits up when I’m under stress from work.

  11. strongblonde Says:

    if i could pick, i would definitely want a window. i feel trapped with no windows. i also need time/space to get up and move around, though. i need a bright space. someplace that is individually temperature controlled….so i don’t get too hot or cold.

    i don’t like smalltalk! we’d probably be great office mates!

  12. Cat Says:

    Your current setup would probably work best for me. I can be easily distracted when doing a task I don’t enjoy and would tend to make excuses to go visit coworkers to chat instead of just finishing the task. I’m sure it was annoying to many of them. Having a bit of a hike to the rest of my team would probably help me stay on task and only walk over there if there was a legitimate reason.

    Currently, as a SAHM, any somewhat quiet room that has a door with a knob protector on the outside is like heaven.

  13. I generally like working in an open space, but want to have my own desk and not stare at a colleague who’s sitting opposite me all the time plus have some privacy/quiet when making phone calls etc. But now that I’m freelancing from home I just prefer to have some space without my toddler ‘rearranging’ everything.

  14. My workspace now that the kid is in preschool is a desk in the corner of our bedroom. But I’d love to have a dedicated office for the days when my husband and/or child are off. It’s horrible having to ask another human beings to be quiet, stop doing what they’re doing, or if they don’t mind to please fully leave the room.

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