Monday, January 29, 2007


Fancy Offices

At the link below is an essentially non-confrontational article about personalizing the office. Some companies - like the Michigan ad firm, Structure Interactive - liven things up with a modern touch - "irregular shapes", "catnip-red walls" and the absence of assigned cubicles. That sounds a little too unstructured for me, quite frankly. Then other folks, like the office furniture company izzydesign, are trying to bring "a residential feel" to office furniture. Me, I can't say I want the office to feel like home. That would induce treacherous notions of security and comfort. I would prefer, frankly, to remain on guard.

There is resistance to changing the look of the American office. This is evident in the fact that, although there has been a movement to bring "greater comfort and visual appeal" to offices nationwide, the question still can be asked, "Then why do so many workspaces remain devastatingly ugly?" Creating an ergonomically correct environment contributes to worker productivity, but enhancing aesthetic appeal is tricky. Many executives see it as unnecessary, and aesthetic taste can be a highly personal and unpredicable thing even with the best of intentions. Attempts at beautification can easily backfire.

Nonetheless, the article attempts to list a few things you can do to make your workspace more livable. Among these are the following:

1) Change the lighting - If you can't do away with the fluorescent overheads, you can always counter their effect in your cubicle with portable area lamps.

2) Make your furniture multitask - Be creative. Put a carpet on the top of a movable file cabinet so that visitors can sit on it, and like that.

3) Add some life - This means plants...

4) Move the conference out of the board room - Hold meetings in interesting places, sort of the way your French class used to sit crosslegged on the library lawn in college.

5) Change something (anything) - Add something that makes your cubicle, no matter how intrinsically uniform, uniquely yours. Imagine an office like those neighborhoods that were put up in the 1920's or 1950's or whatever, but in which, over the years, the houses have been painted different colors, one guy puts stucco on his, while another tries brick facing, one variation on a theme after another playing out down the street. A row of cubicles has the potential to become a little like that.

"Latest Office Designs Offer Comforts of Home" from NPR

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