Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Office Space

A major change that computers have brought into work life, but one that is rarely discussed, is office furniture arrangement.

Before computers, office desks faced out into the room, toward the door. You walked into your colleague's office and she was already facing you. You walked into your boss's office, and he (usually a he then) was already staring at you. If you walk into the big boss's office (hint: it's an oval), he's still staring at you.

That's because he doesn't have a computer. There are no nasty cords to hide. I think it's really all about the cords. Nobody wanted to stare at them or trip over them, so they've been hidden in cube corners and back walls. So now we all find ourselves with our back to our cube "doors" and office doors, and people have to cough or something to get our attention and then we wonder how long they were watching us slouch at our computers and play with our hair and maybe pick that piece of spinach out of our teeth. And it's just not friendly.

But what's going to happen now that we're streamlining the hardware? Are we moving toward a time where there will be no cords? If I had my way, I'd just be doing all my computing on my laptop now. No bundles of cords to hide.

Might we live to see the rebirth of the doorward-facing desk?

1 comment:

Sara Leonard said...

You know, it's funny. I face my office door. My little laptop sits right in front of me and right over it is a big, wide-open door. Though I am sometimes distracted by what's going on in the hallway, or slightly annoyed by the undergraduates who feel a need to glare into my office on their way into the classroom next door, there are several nice things about it. I can greet my colleagues or other students as they come and go. I know when I'm being approached, as opposed to that back-facing cube phenomenon where someone walks up and is reading what is on your computer screen before you know they're there (damn! caught writing personal email again!) Or I have wonderful students exclaim "you're still here!"

What I feel is missing from my space is some nice seating in front of it. A comfortable place for people to gather and talk.

Still, it makes me approachable. VERY approachable. Which is often great - people remember to stop by and say something because they see my face and I greet them. Then, I know what's going on. And yet other times EVERYONE approaches me... to ask if the Orchestra director is in his office. To ask if I can let them into a locked room that's locked for a good reason. Etc.

All in all though, I'd say the positives outweigh the negatives.

That's my ramble for today.