19 September 2013
... Isn't a Saturday
I’ve been going to the 100% Design trade show for quite a few years now and there’s always some finely crafted cubicle contraption lurking in the Office section of the event. Unless I’ve developed some curious office consciousness since my last visit, I’d say there are more of these cubicle designs than ever this year. OK, so …
Not sure what that Pod thing reminds me of more, an aquarium or an oversized shower. Certainly not somewhere I'd want to have a meeting in either way. We have "normal" meeting rooms with that kind of large glass area in some of our offices, and they're awful to use (a pain to temperature regulate and very high distraction level of people walking past).
The Niche chairs however do look interesting in a more informal but private discussion style, albeit for smaller discussions rather than groups.
To comply, the relative positions of the keyboard, monitor, and chair all have to be adjustable - these have the suspicious look of something that fits the designer and no-one else, and only then if the exact position is maintained forever.
They may be space efficient, but they do not look comfortable.
I had a friend at college who, despite being able to hear perfectly, could lip read perfectly. We often used to sit in a room overlooking the principal's office. He would just watch what people said. Nobody ever worked out how we, just a couple of students, were higher up in the news chain that most of the staff.
The same friend, as a bus passed us in the street, turned and asked me, "Did you see what that guy said?" He could never understand that others didn't have the same ability. Now, as my hearing gets worse, I wish I did.
not what you’re talking about – lip reading (and laser beams picking up vibrations from the windows) notwithstanding
My understanding is that "X notwithstanding" means something like "despite X".
So are the occupants of this thing protected against lip-readers and lasers, or aren't they? If they are, how does the anti-lip-reading device work?
Robert Propst was the author of The Office: A Facility Based on Change in the 1960's and his ideas were directly perverted to create the cube farm and the monstrosities in the article. He died being blamed for the modern office but denied it to his death, calling them "barren, rat hole places".
His ideas are there in the cubes, sort of. Each was supposed to be customizable to suit the current desires of its occupant and make them feel like they 'owned' their own little bastion of productivity. Each cube worker was supposed to be able to select modular components from a central store and swap them out themselves. The modularity was quickly absconded with by office builders who saw a way to cut down on parts lists and charge outrageous sums for critical components of crappy quality.
So, as with other good ideas, the 'Action Office' concept was twisted by greed into the sickly cube farms we all love. The book is very interesting and still 100% applicable even though the technology is entirely different. The guy really knew Humans and office work.
There was lot of really, really good design being done in the 1950s and 60s in regards to public space planning.
All perverted or abandoned by greed or fashion.
My pet peeve these days: missing signs on glass doors with ambiguous handles. Do I push or pull and do I need to swipe my badge?
My second pet peeve is cubicles with half walls. Yes, I can clearly hear your conversation with the doctor's office about your botched sex change operation.
Furniture in this article? Fashion. Meh.
There really was so much good work done and it is strange to me nobody ever seems to goes back and looks at what was already accomplished.
Everybody is trying to reinvent the wheel and they're basing it on a flawed conception of the wheel. They're skipping design fundamentals that were developed when individual productivity and effeciency was orders of magnitude better studied and mission critical: It had to be, everything was manual.
It's that way in industrial machinery too. Bad ideas that were tried two (Human) generations ago are dressed up in colored plastic and remarketed. They're still bad ideas, now they just clash with the factory floor.
It is expensive. But most specialty books are; the authors have to eat too. For better or worse, it is highly unlikely that a book about modular workplace design principals will ever reach the volume levels of general interest books that allow for lower pricing :)
There used to be a (poorly) scanned PDF version of it floating around sites which have such things; but I haven't looked in many years.
I regret to report that this is the second posting on El Reg today that uses "loosing" to mean "losing".
Shall we run a sweepstake on how long it will be before the verb "to lose" disappears entirely? When that happens it will, presumably, be impossible for archers to distinguish between firing an arrow and misplacing one.
I'm not wholly convinced that the extinction of the typing pool was a good thing. Sure, individual productivity has gone up (in theory anyway) but so has the cost of the infrastructure and maintenance required to make it all work. Plus think of all the modesty screen designers who were displaced.
All with REMOVE in subject line to stop receiving these messages.
Go for the glass one please. It gives everyone else in the office something nice to look at - without having to hear anything which might distress them.
However, I should point out that although Jenny's pulchritude is not in doubt by anyone in the office, yours needs to match up as well. So if you're Adam from accounts, you can forget it. Jenny says you're repulsive. If you're Brad in marketing however, she's asked me to tell you to bring your hunky body and a canister of whipped cream anytime after lunch.
First, didn't anyone warn you about the problems when you dip your pen in the company ink?
Second. If you have to wait until the X-mas party, you're too slow. You needed to make your move earlier, like during the Friday after work gathering down at the local pub.
Third... are in a time warp? The 'typing pool' went out with the 60's and early 70's.
Nowadays programmers routinely type faster than old school secretaries.
Just keeping it real.
Oh and just to keep it on topic, the trend is to create places where one could escape the pods. Sorry, but pods are not that efficient for those attempting to do serious work. Most who have to live in pods tend to drown out and zone out by putting on headphones and listening to music just so that they can think.
Give me a sterile office w a single coworker any day.
Full of awe at the cost or the awful designs? :)
But you're right. These things are custom made to bleed new money companies dry. It's sort of a good financial management test for VC's. If your projects start buying cutting edge decor don't give them any more money. That garbage doesn't impress anyone but the simpletons. It angers investors.
On the other hand those same stupid companies provide a wonderful source of nice things when they liquidate their holdings. All of our Aeron and Leap chairs and Herman Miller drafting stools were bought at auctions for about $75 each, instead of $1100+ per. We spent the savings on the staff lounge and complimentary bar.
There's your in for next years 100% Design show! You'd get scads of free press too! Special populations (I'm sorry, I don't know the current correct term for the disabled) press would jump on it and VC's would eat it up too. I was going to say they'd love it because of the captive market but then was worried about that being misconstrued as insulting. Damnit, I hate it that people are destroying the language.
Anyway, you've got a good idea. OpenSpaces: The Leader in Wheelchair Accessible Productivity Environments; or whatever you want to call it. You should do it.
Yep, we have lots of kit like this put in when we moved to our new offices. We have mainly rows of desks, all with docking bays, phones, 2nd monitors and keyboard/mice for hotdesking. Our meeting rooms are frosted glass pods holding 4-7 people, and we've got masses of them, all of which have VC for talking to teams in China and US.
Our "breakout area" (I agree, it is a horrible term) has several high tables with some phones scattered around and power points for laptops, and a bunch of patio style tables and chairs for brief meetings/lunch (and coffee/tea machines).
We have "privacy couches" like the ones shown as well, for informal and semi private meetings. We even have a meeting room mocked out like the Tardis.
Compared to our old offices, standard shitty London office, we had 3 meeting rooms, only one of which had VC, no hotdesking (meaning every time someone moved team, IT had to move their PC), you could never get a meeting room booking for VC, and if you did, the other side wouldn't have their only room with VC.
I was sceptical too at first, but the extra facilities are genuinely useful, and the hotdesking facilities mean it is trivial to work from home with all the features of being in the office.
I hate hotdesking, it makes it impossible to personalise your space and worse, makes your notepads and printed copy a hindrance instead of the help it should be.
And yes, printed copy is necessary if you have fewer than four monitors or if your monitors are only 1080p or smaller.
Notepads are simply fundamental - you can sketch a thing faster on a bit of paper than it could ever be drawn on a computer, and it's compatible with all software and fully multi-tasked.
Perhaps I'm Luddite of some description --- certainly I'll admit to in-experience --- but I've found printed copy to be a saving grace: everybody in charge assumes that nobody would use hardcopy materials for anything important, so it is a trivial matter to shift them from place to place, especially compared to computer machinery.
Although I'd like to hear you discription of "notepad"; again my inexperience, in that I'm not sure of what you mean.
Hotdesking means having to carry all your paperwork around, it can't be left on the desk or locked in the desk drawer.
When that paperwork is a set of annotated building drawings, that's easily more than a kg of paper for just one project.
When you're working on multiple projects at the same time, it rapidly becomes impossible.
A notepad is a like a book but without any words inside it. You use a pen or pencil to put your own words and diagrams inside. Thoroughly recommended, they work almost everywhere even without electrical power or batteries, and some models are even waterproof!
Christ all f*cking mighty!
I'd be less outraged if the search for efficient use of limited space didn't have so many sweeping curves or lack of any sort of clue about claustrophobia's impact on productivity.
It isn't hard. If you can't fit a desk and swivel chair in your office for each worker *let them work from home*!
If you can't trust them to work from home, rent cheaper office space!
I absolutely hate the trend of the open plan office. It makes it impossible to concentrate, you have to find a room to make a phone call or hold a meeting, etc. My company brought in the usual suspect management consultants a few years ago who convinced them that the open plan office was the way to go. Since then, they've been converting all their bigger offices to these Google-esque wonderlands. No assigned desks, glass-walled meeting rooms, the whole bit.
I think it has something to do with the whole social aspect, but when I'm working on a problem, I want quiet. When I make a phone call, I don't want the entire office to hear it.
Fortunately, for now, our smaller branch office hasn't been targeted for Googlefication yet. We'll see what happens though...
All kinds of bullishit has been spewed as the justifications for Open Plan Offices but it's all just that, bullshit. All the efficiency studies and whatnot artfully and intentionally steer clear of improved/developed office space costs.
A fairly decent price for Class B finished and base wired open office space in a decent size city in a decent location (in the US) is ~$40-$60 per square foot. If you're leasing a space where you want to build in 'real' offices and facility dictated contractors, engineers and architects are required, the price jumps up to about $300ft2+ (well over $1000 or more in Manhattan) plus the initial outlay for materials plus the anticipated costs of removal and restoration to as Leased condition. Most facilities won't consider those things 'lease hold improvements' so you can't deduct them from the lease payments (like you generally can with more restrooms or other required things) or, in many cases, taxes. It's a straight spend.
If you're leasing say, 5,000ft2 the difference in putting staff in cubes vs 'real' offices is the difference between having a viable business or not. The cost of office space is one of those few things that business owners/managers don't have control over and can legitimately blame on someone else.
People bitch about software shenanigans and lock-in but the software industry ain't got shit on the crooked bastards in commercial real-estate. You're trapped with no options and they know it.
Wow. Way to utilise space, "designers".
How about, get this: use another room. A smaller one. Now no need to create the half-baked illusion of having a small office by dumping a small office in the middle of a large empty room. Go clean out a broom cupboard. Problem solved. Call it an Alpha-State Inducement Chamber and pipe some Enya in if it makes you feel any better.
Perfect for wasting tens of expensive square footage by making them utterly unusable.
Circular is BAD. It does not nest, it doesn't fit in with anything else - and often makes a large space claustrophobic, because you're always close to a wall.
What is it with these "design" people anyway? Most of those would be dangerous in a fire as hard to evacuate (and check), claustrophobic and unusable by anyone not the exact size and shape of the designer.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019