Office work environment

I'm going to write about something completely different for a change. If you're not interested in this subject, I think you should be. It's about office work environment.

All too often neglected, this is something that I've had to fight for at every job I have ever had. Sometimes successfully, most of the time not. It seems like it is very hard to make management understand that they are losing money by not providing adequate working conditions for their employees.

I don't know about you, but in order to work efficiently, I have to be able to concentrate. That means there must be as few distractions as possible, and my workspace needs to be comfortable. A desk large enough to spread some papers around without every last bit of it being covered, a comfortable chair, a reasonably noise-free environment, no drafts or vibrations, a steady temperature, and good lighting are a few criteria that are important to me.

Right now, I don't have a lot of those. At my office there are radios playing mindless commercial music, television sets blaring out news, a refrigerator humming and vibrating, people yelling or talking loudly, phones ringing, my chair is uncomfortable, the room is too cold, especially during the winter. No wonder I often have a headache by the time I go home.

Sure, different people have very different needs. I know people who won't be distracted by anything, while others lose their concentration easily. It also depends a lot on what kind of work you do. Back when I used to design more, and when I worked with video editing, I was much less sensitive to stuff going on around me.

When I'm working with code though, I really need to focus on what I'm doing, and that can be very difficult to do in my current work environment. That is not to say that it's worse now than at my previous jobs. I have worked under much worse conditions than these. I've worked in offices with cigarette smoke coming from the ventilation, in buildings with magnetic fields that made the image of every CRT screen blurry and unstable, and in environments noisy enough to make people use earplugs.

What about you? Do you work from home or at an office? Do you have a room of your own? What is the worst office work environment you have ever been in? The best? For those of you who both design and code, do you need different working conditions depending on what you're doing? Lots of questions, but important ones.

Posted on October 11, 2004 in Web General