The New Office

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item The New Office

  • That almost sounds like a recruitment advert!:)

    There is no problem so great that it can not be solved by caffeine and chocolate.
  • Wow, that office looks really big and nice, lot of space.

    I've worked in one company with 10 other guyz in a room of some 90 sq f. , now that was gr8 and a lot of fun (NOT).

    been there for two months and ran as fast as I could from there, considering my condition (anxiety and panic attacks) I sometimes wonder how I hold on for so long there πŸ™‚

    Now I'm working from home, but sometimes I miss being surrounded with lot of ppl. πŸ™

    "It takes 15 minutes to learn the game and a lifetime to master"
    "Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality."

  • Very nice narration. More open than I care for, too many distractions, but for all that clearly they did put some time and effort into trying to make the office cheerful and livable.

  • Nice editorial Steve, but I always find discussions of office layouts most curious - as though arranging furniture and amenities is really going to have all that much effect one way or the other on how an office "runs". A great example of this would be a company I once did a consult in that used the "open office" concept, but the two weeks I spent there was more like being at Gestapo headquarters in World War 2. The guy who ran the place forbade people from chatting and I have been in churches and libraries with more noise during the day - the people were uptight and did not engage each other except in whispers. No one seemed all that happy at their jobs, and worse, everyone steered clear of this fellow whose management style was to get angry, be angry and stay angry.

    I have come to think that its all well and good to provide a nice place for people to work, but that is really only half the job. No matter how nice your surroundings are, offices are for people and if you don't have people who feel comfortable, no amount of furniture, murals, employee amenities are going to make a difference. Companies, after all, are made up of people - not furnishings.

    There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
  • I hate open offices. Too much distracting chatter and too many interruptions. One I worked in was so noisy people would get physically ill from noise induced stress.

    On the other hand, I like wide open spaces, particularly if I can open windows and doors on a warm rainy day.

    Wonder if I could get an office with sheet waterfall walls that had laser displays of the great outdoors on them? And a great sound system that played nature sounds.

    Naw, then I'ld want a stream flowing through it and a fishing pole.

    That popping sound was me snapping back to reality...

  • I don't think the furniture arrangement offers up a lot, but it does add something.

    There was a lot of thought given to making things look good, more than a few pictures, and I liked the artistic creativity. I should have shot more on the kitchens, which are nice, and offer lots of open space, inviting people to stop and take a break. They have a couple lunch clubs that meet with various employees to make food and chat over lunch.

    The canteen is also scheduled to start providing lunch for people soon. It was almost ready when I was there. Interestingly enough, no soda there. Lots of water, juice, coffee, and of course, tea.

    Red Gate is hiring, and paying bonuses, so if you want to work in the UK, give them a ring, say Rachel referred you πŸ˜€

  • Recently, I emailed photos of my work area to Steve for comparison. Per Steve's suggestion: Here's majority of the email...

    "Steve Jones" wrote on 02/11/2009 09:06:50 AM: (Steve's comments marked by >)

    > It’s a cube

    I prefer the term cell.

    > couple of my monitors (I use 3 LCDs) to get the portrait mode.

    I love the portrait mode. I guess I have good eye sight. I run with Management studio set to 8pt fixed width font, on a (21" portrait) 1200x1600 resolution. That gives me just over 100 lines of code in a single page.

    The other thing that I've learned over the past 20 years is to invert the colors. Color on Black background. I find it vastly easier to perceive the color on black, after all, the brain is only processing a positive input / stimulus, as opposed to trying to process the LACK of stimulus.

    > Thanks for sharing. You can post these in the forum if you like as well.

    I'll give it a try.

    > I should probably post my environment, huh?

    I agree.


    And now for those pictures...

    Honor Super Omnia-
    Jason Miller

  • I agree with the other posts. After working in one of these open environments there are drawbacks. It's a great idea in theory but in execution it has to be near perfect. It's very difficult to concentrate when there are no physical barriers to separate you from the rest of the world. Ad hoc meetings that take place adjacent to your work area, despite noise level, become visual distractions. Casual interruptions become more frequent and as a result a structured day starts to fall apart. Not all jobs flourish in a non structured manner.

    If the office does not become a "collective" the unavoidable differences generate unnecessary stress. One persons clutter is stress for the neat freak and vice versa. A cube wall goes a long way to avoid such a simple conflict.

    As the company grows the "collective" office space gets divided over and over again until employees begin to fight for what personal space they have left. Desks grow vertical barriers made out of house plants, stacks of files, and paper holders are attached to the sides of monitors. The personal workspace continues to close in on the employee and what once seemed like a great idea breeds a destructive culture.

  • I work in a cubicle with some "windows" in the cubicle walls. It's enough privacy and enough light because of the "windows". I would hate to work in an open office such as you describe. I would not be able to concentrate. I can shut out the sound of people talking, but the idea of being constantly on display, or very visible would be unnerving. Also, holding ad hoc meetings on dev issues ususally involved looking at something on someone's dev box. That would not be available in those little conference rooms. If all the dev environment was thin client it would work OK I guess

  • I didn't show it, but there are over a dozen conference rooms, ranging from small (10x10 or similar size) to larger, 50-80 person rooms. You could schedule time in there to work if needed.

    People also work flex schedules, so I'm sure you could work off hours to get some more separation.

    I do agree that open environments can be hard, but they can be very collaborative. I think you want to get your culture right to match employees. If you got changed to or from an open environment, it might bother you. If you started in one, you might be OK.

    as an aside, here's my current setup.

  • Steve,

    the new office looks really nice. I applaud the artistic aspect. For me, however, I would need a private space to run to to get work done. Having an open concept works until the noise level gets too great to concentrate.

    I have a private office with a door and I wouldn't want it any other way.

  • skjoldtc (2/11/2009)

    I have a private office with a door and I wouldn't want it any other way.

    Oh what I'd give for an office with a door. Or a holocaust cloak. :w00t:

    Honor Super Omnia-
    Jason Miller

  • As for all those conference rooms...

    If my job was such that I used a laptop exclusively and went pretty much paperless then I can see how migrating to a conference room would be easy enough. However I believe most gritty technical jobs are not laptop centric and generally they are accompanied by pre meditated workspace configurations. To regularly give up that optimized workspace for privacy or migrate that workspace to a conference room on an as needed basis to me is not an efficient use of time and highly impractical.

    The gentleman who has dual monitors is a perfect example. If a person with this setup needs some heads down uninterrupted crunch time the office structure does not support this. The employee stays put because of the optimized workspace and is constantly distracted. The alternative is the employee moves to a conference room and either dismantles and reassembles a workstation in the conference room or they choose to take a laptop and sacrifice the efficiency gains the desktop environment gives them. I know I can't see 100 lines of code on my laptops screen no matter what I set the resolution to.

    If I am a PM and constantly in meetings anyway this setup works for my job type because I am essentially a mobile worker anyway. The office is moot except for the desire to have face to face interaction.

  • The day I got a office with a door was the day my productivity rose, code quality improved and overall happiness increased. Open floor plans are for classrooms, not developers.

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