Office Space!



Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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39 Responses

  1. Avatar Maribou says:

    I love love love my workspace. It is spacious and I have a lot of say into how it is set up (other things intrude on the workspace part but if they get egregious we can push back and say “hey, seriously, I can’t work like that, let’s fix it). I have moved all my stuff around so my computer faces the window and can’t be walked up on from behind. The window looks out onto our main service area and is non-sound-proof, so I am within earshot and vision of the service desk in case my help is needed, but I have two big wood doors we can shut if a private conversation needs to be had (rare). And I’m back from the desk *enough* that I can listen to music or webinars or whatever quietly without headphones, which is a big deal given that I can’t put ON headphones, because of needing to pay attention to the desk.

    My officemate is also one of my “work spouses” (We tend to be work-polyamorous here, which I think is healthy). She delights me. I would rather work with her than work in an office alone by a factor of at least 20. Sometimes I forget that, and then she goes on vacation for a week and I pine. I prefer being at work to working at home; although it would be nice (and I have VERY rarely taken the opportunity) to do so once in a blue moon for a change of pace. (I mean, I work from home every week, just not in more than 15 minute spurts. For which I am duly compensated by living at work and comp time if it gets too egregious. 😉 )

    I like the idea of working in a shed; all the most famous writers seem to have (eg Dahl, Hemingway, Faulkner).Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      I would like a real window, that faced onto the outside, but that is a very minor issue when I can walk outside for a few minutes whenever I want and no one will complain :D.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’m thinking I can make myself a little seating area outside the shed door too, for when the weather’s nice. But right now it’s way too hot.

        I’m a little worried about claustrophobia (I can be a little prone) but as long as there’s air moving I am usually OK (though hopefully the A/C isn’t too loud, though that I can probably deal with via headphones or earplugs). And I am definitely feeling trapped where I am now anyway.

        Would love to get some ‘real’ writing done. Now all I will need are ideas and talent!Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      One very specific thing that I love about my office? When I get one of these damnable weather headaches, I can turn OFF the fluorescents and turn ON my floor lamp and sit in the near-dark, and no one cares. <3. *rubs temples woefully*Report

  2. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    It took me a while to get a “routine” of working at home, but now that I have one I like it a lot. My two caveats:

    1. I need to make a point of keeping up networking face to face with people, because otherwise I miss the social interaction too much.

    2. In the summers (starting this week, in fact) when my boys are home, I have to start off my day at Starbucks for the first 3 or 4 hours, or it’s too distracting to get a good flow going in whatever I’m working on.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Sometimes I can be very productive working at home. Sometimes, not so much. I have not yet isolated the variable that controls this outcome.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Hah. Don’t I wish — those guys on Mad Men seem to have a lot of fun after lubricated lunches.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I have absolutely no idea how they got any work done like that. When I was still going into the office, every once in a while we’d go get a big burger for lunch and a few times, I got a single beer with that burger (because, what goes better together than a beer and a burger?)

        And when I’d get back to the office, I’d be so…freaking…tired, all afternoon.Report

      • I actually skip lunch during most of my workdays in part because lunch makes me too tired in the afternoon, and that’s without drinking alcohol. I realize that this is not healthy, and toward the end of the day I’m not my energetic cheerful self, but I’m still better than I would be if I had eaten.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        grab a small snack when you need a pick me up.Report

  4. Avatar Patrick says:

    I have the biggest office in my building, which I designed myself on account o’ I sat in on every new building meeting when we built the new building.

    It’s a shared space, which is suboptimal in theory, but my office mate and I get along really well, which was part of the design consideration notes.

    I try to get work done at home. Not work-work, but grad-student work… and it’s an enormous pain in the ass, because I don’t have a workspace in the house.

    This is a pretty critical problem for me, because I have different ways of approaching different projects, suitable for the sort of context-switching and task-complexity I have to deal with, and having a large horizontal surface on which to puke sketches and diagrams and notes and bits of paper with scribbles on them is kind of important.

    And the garage, where my not-large-horizontal surface desk is, is usually too crammed with stuff (most of which we legitimately use and I swear are not just packratting) to accommodate this. I have to move stuff around to work in the garage, and moving bikes out in order to sit down and hammer away at a content management layout is just not working.

    Optimally, I need wall space for at least 1 4×6 vertical writing surface, 1 4×6 bulletin board, space for a computer workstation with a hundred gazillion pixels, and at least one flat 3-4 foot by 6-8 foot surface. Plus drawers.

    Maybe when I retire, I’ll have an outbuilding.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Outbuilding definitely seems the way to go. I’m actually only taking about half of the shed (I still need the other half for storage) but I briefly considered taking the whole thing.Report

    • Avatar dhex says:

      whiteboard paint will get you at least some of that. some of my colleagues sketch out broad plans for the next six months on all of their walls. it is awesome for working out both practical and creative plans.

      i would have done my office in it but i did not know it existed when they painted my office. maybe next year.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    Not actually related to the post, just the title: I used to catch a bus in front of the building used for Initech’s exterior. The first time I realized this, I had to walk through the ditch.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Yeah, @chris , I’m gonna need you to go ahead and post a picture, okay?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I’ll bring a printer to smash.

        I live within walking distance of the burger joint from Dazed and Confused as well.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I used to go bowling in the bowling alley used in The Big Lebowski.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Does working a mile from Zorin’s factory complex in Moonraker count?

        Also, lots of car commercials get filmed out here, usually zooming along impossibly-straight desert roads vanishing over the horizon by beige mountains of jagged rock, or doing donuts on dry lakebeds and throwing visually-pleasing rooster tails of dust up behind them.Report

  6. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    My “office” is on wheels. About the size of your shed, but it has A/C, satellite radio, and two bunks (for team driving). What’s weird is waking up in the middle of the night and having to figure out what the fuck state I’m in, where I’m going, when I have to be there, etc.Report

  7. Avatar James Hanley says:


    I have three kids and a wife, too. They all seem to think that if they interrupt me once an hour, that’s not too much. But of course that adds up to once every 15 minutes. And like you, I need uninterrupted time. I do have a home office (7×11), but every time we’re cleaning up, random stuff gets tossed in there, so it becomes storage as well.

    I dresm of building a shed for an office. I say go for it, and if you’re worried about claustrophobia, maybe cut some holes in the wall and add some more windows before you insulate and finish the interior. Or go whole hog and put in French doors!Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Why did I think you only had two kids? And yeah, my wife has gotten better about the intentional interruptions (though of course there are still times when she genuinely needs to tell or show me something, as well as times when that “something” is just something goofy she saw online), but she can’t do anything about the general noise/chaos level, or the trips to and from the laundry room. Headphones help some, but not enough.Report

  8. Avatar North says:

    I used to be able to work remotely but alas no longer. My office is a perfectly pleasant quiet cubicle and I have no serious objections to it beyond that I used to be able to work from home once or twice a week and now cannot.Report

  9. Avatar Damon says:

    I’ve done the WFH thing quite a bit, although not as a full time gig. I do have a spare bedroom converted to office. Got my home computer, my surround sound for music, and a space for my company laptop, with connections/rounters etc. for everthing to be connected. Sadly, current employer likes to see his employess at the office even if we’re just surfing the web with nothing to do.

    At the work site I have an office. I’m nothing special, everyone, except those on the factor floor, have offices. The new facility will be all cubes for non managers I hear though. It’s quiet enough, the A/C/heat sucks (very long story) but I have a fan.

    I got a phone, computer, and an internet connection. I’m good.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Spare bedroom/office would be ideal, but right now we don’t have one (that may change in future). My worry about moving to the shed is the isolation. What if I get cabin fever, grow my beard really long and start working on a rambling 1,000 page anti-technology manifesto?Report

  10. Like Maribou above, I’m fortunate to have a really nice workplace.

    Also, for me, working from home is not a good decision. I need the social aspect of having coworkers who I speak to daily. Perhaps that’s because I’ve almost always, with only one or two exceptions, been lucky enough to have great coworkers who I got along well with (at least from my point of view…..I can’t speak for what they think of me). Even though I consider myself an introvert, I do like the stimulation of having people to talk to every day.Report

  11. Avatar dhex says:

    team shed! a tricked out shed sounds totes awesome.

    i do have my own space for the first time since i lived alone way back when. just finished painting. no door, though. i may try to find a way to fix that but it’s got some weird staircase abutment protusion thing where the door should be.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Depending on the noise where you are, maybe a pocket or bifold door would work if a swinging one won’t for space reasons?


      • Avatar dhex says:

        the issue is that the doorway/archway/whateverway is bifurcated by a stair rail. it’d be major surgery i’m not willing to commit to. and beaded curtains are a lousiness i’m not willing to submit to.


  12. Right now, I’m in cubicle land, which is not ideal, though it’s not horrible. I’m by the window, which is nice. It’s in my old neighbourhood, and from the window I can see a vacant/parking lot in which me and a couple of friends got accosted by about six cops (three squad cars!) drinking one night back in high school.

    Well, my one friend had a beer. I wasn’t drinking (right then) and I had just convinced our other friend to drink from a puddle in the parking lot. One of the cops suggested he “go home and find a tap.” Good times.

    I occasionally work from home, and it is the absolute ideal. I did it a bunch last year when I had some freelancing gigs. I don’t have a true workspace at home, and with a 3yo and 6yo, it’s not always quiet in our apartment. I tend to switch between working at the dining room table, working on the couch or working in the bedroom, depending how much quiet I need and what the kiddos are up to. Luckily, as a writer I generally need little more than my laptop. Occasionally, my phone, but not usually.

    Years ago, I worked for a small private school. We were switching buildings one summer and the new office wasn’t ready before we had to get out of the old one, so I spent most of that August working from home. My wife did not always enjoy the updates of me working in a lawn chair in the backyard, sometimes with a beer, sometimes BBQing, while she was stuck at a window-less desk at a law firm.Report

  13. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    I also work from home and have for the past year. My company is a an office-less tech startup with a rack of prototype servers in my spare bedroom. I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

    The good:
    – My office is often the covered deck in the back yard.
    – Zero commute costs. An extra 2 hours a day is an extraordinary quality of life increase. I’m in better shape than I’ve been in since college.
    – I do my best work away from an office. My job is technical, so interruptions seriously don’t help. My wife leaves for the office and it’s just me and a mini dachshund all day.
    – Total schedule flexibility in a great overall life productivity boost. Doing things when it’s optimal to do them and not because you’re in a particular location and it’s your only chance to do them is great.
    – We’re almost 100% engineers at the moment, so there’s no person whose job seems to be having impromptu meetings. Most of the time I know a day in advance if I’m even going to have to answer the phone.

    The bad:
    – High risk job–one year without a paycheck and at least another 9 months to go. We’ll see if the roll of the dice was a good call.
    – Without a fixed office space with a nice office chair, there’s a temptation to sit on things that are comfy and will eventually destroy your posture. I’m fighting that battle right now.
    – Electricity consumption is up somewhat.

    Some people would find the lack of human interaction to be a real problem. I don’t miss it. Evenings with my wife, 90 minutes of yoga in a classroom environment, and regular email with the team does it for me. I was never a “go to parties and hang out” kind of guy. Very small circle of friends. My human interaction needs are easily satisfied by 1 or 2 people most of the time.Report

  14. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    @patrick The BL bowling alley comment wins the thread. My favorite movie.

    I work in an open office environment, which has both drawbacks and advantages. On the downside, if one of my co-workers is feeling chatty it can be hard to stay on task. On the upside, collaboration and testing of new ideas is extremely easy, since my collaborator is sitting right there.

    As for sheds, Andy Partridge has made his the Tin Pan Alley of Swindon, England. Famously, Arthur Jackson had 2 of them.Report

  15. Avatar Michael M. says:

    It’s interesting to me that no one has seemed to place much import on where their office or workspace is located, although I guess it is implied for those that work from home that their location is their own neighborhood, which hopefully they like.

    I mention this because some years ago I realized I had become entirely conditioned to working in urban environments. I worked for several years for a few large corporations with an offices in midtown Manhattan. (The best location was right next to Central Park, the old Gulf + Western Building, subsequently renamed the Paramount Building, and now a Trump something luxury condo type building. My old office is probably a part of some wealthy industrialist’s bathroom now.) I used to care about my immediate surroundings, which varied from a desk in a hallway (with a hole in the ceiling above me) to private offices with expansive views of the skyline. But it wasn’t until I started taking business trips to offices elsewhere that I realized how by the far the most important factor to me was that I was in a city. Visiting suburban office parks was, for me, like entering some nightmarish dysptopia. One company worked for had a warehouse/fulfillment center in Mechanicsburg, PA, that was basically sandwiched between a freeway and a couple of interchanges. I felt like I was trapped in a J.G. Ballard novel.

    After that, I realized that what actually matters to me more than the size or shape of my cubicle or office is the geography of the surrounding area. I can put up with a lot of what might drive others to distraction n my immediate surroundings as long as I can go outside and there are trappings of a robust urban environment — i.e., shops, restaurants, cafes, and most of all people — rather than the trappings of suburbia, namely vast expanses of space given over to the storage of private automobiles. If I’m working in a place where it isn’t at least comfortable (if not entertaining) to go for a walk around the block without feeling like some out-of-place weirdo, then I could care less if my office was everything I could ever want in an office. I would be miserable.Report