Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Social Workspace

Sometimes you want to be alone, sometimes you don't
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Private offices and cubicles are set apart from a central atrium littered at random with couches, reading chairs, computer terminals, and roll-away white boards. There are "white courtesey phones" for inviting others into the space from their personal workspace, but no phones ring. The atrium is intended to replace meeting rooms and conference rooms. Meetings are structured so that interested parties can overhear and join in. Groups can work together on portions of their project, then retreat to their quiet space to concentrate on individual sub-projects. Employees are encouraged to use the common space as little or as much as suits their personality, and are not judged on how much time they spend in the social workspace.
jimfl, Jan 13 2000

Newton Institute http://www.newton.cam.ac.uk
Newton Institute home page [mab, Jan 13 2000, last modified Oct 17 2004]

The woes of the virtual office http://www.public.a...orgcomm/pierson.htm
Focuses on Frank Gehry's office building for Chiat/Day, which everyone thought was great until they actually had to work in it. [hippo, Jan 13 2000, last modified Oct 17 2004]

[link]






       The place where I work was designed by an architect with similar ideas --- we have lots of really small offices around big central social workspaces. I'm a bit skeptical about how well it works. It needs a lot of space (since you can't make the individual offices too small), I find that I need to be in my office with the door closed to really get anything done (but I'm easily distracted), and we do tend to get "judged on how much time we spend in the social workspace". I think that last is unavoidable, since bosses will have to be very excited about the social workspace idea to go to the time, trouble and expense to implement it, and won't be happy if that seems to have been for nothing.
cosma, Jan 18 2000
  

       An article in the NY Times on Jan 20 about social workspaces listed prices as $60 and $45 a square foot. What do normal offices cost?   

       I like voluntary social space, but hate the enforced kind, too; too often they turn into a publicity stunt from people who wouldn't know focused creative work if it bit them, and simply force their serfs into constant headphones and/or odd hours. Go design my door if you must...
jutta, Jan 23 2000
  

       The Newton Institute at the University of Cambridge, a mathematics research center that hosts groups of visiting scholars for about 6 months at a time, is designed along a similar architectural scheme. There are private offices, but they all look on to a common atrium built as a split-level between the floors. It's deliberately impossible to get from one place to another without bumping in to other people, and there are chalkboards in places like the restrooms and the lift.
mab, Feb 03 2000
  

       The vast infamous corp. I last worked at had similar spaces, but they flubbed it, I thought, by having not-very-comfortable chairs - suitable neitherfor naps and goofiness nor for sitting upright being excited. They were okay for moving hallway conversations out of the actual hallways, where they would have bothered people in their offices. They weren't as good as the benches on the stairwell landings (quite lovely - the elevators got pushed into dark interior space, and the stairwells got a big glassy proportion of the exteriors. Good views. But no whiteboards!)   

       On the other hand, we were absolutely allowed to keep our office doors shut, if we wanted.
hello_c, Sep 08 2000
  

       The problem with the pointy-headed boss is that he/she can take a great idea and make it into something completely unrecognizable as such by "encouraging" (read 'forcing') people to use it.
arghblah, Feb 16 2001
  
      
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