Monday, January 7, 2008

Lessons Learned from The Office

With the TV writers on strike, I’ve found myself with some extra time on my hands… Did I use this for something productive? Of course not. Instead, I took it upon myself to catch up on the “special features” on the DVDs of my favorite show ever, the American version of The Office. Surprisingly enough, I was actually able to turn this exercise into something somewhat productive. As I blogged before, The Office has lots of design features for us to critique. Here are a few of the things I noticed:

The Good:

  • There are lots of windows and lots of the open workstations are right by the windows.
  • There are windows from the manager office, break room, and conference room into the main office area, allowing daylight to pass through (when the blinds aren’t drawn).
  • There’s lots of open office space with few partitions
  • Each individual desk has task lighting
  • There are tons of plants around the office - good except for when they died when Dwight quit.

The Bad:

  • Windows are always closed – or at least the venetian blinds are halfway turned, thereby reducing the amount of natural daylight into and the views from the workspace
  • Enclosed spaces are outboard – by moving open workstations closer to the windows and enclosed spaces inboard, more people benefit from natural daylight and views
  • Paper, paper, everywhere – all the paper (and other clutter) generates and collects dust…not so great for indoor air quality
  • Vending machines – there are a lot of vending machines in that break room – and since there are only about 15 employees, typically an office of this size would not receive a single vending machine (there might be some shared for the entire building). By having so many options for so few people, it means that the food in there is probably pretty old and funky, and also, a lot of energy is wasted keeping the machines running.
  • Privacy (audio and visual) – employees in the open workspace sit face to face – there’s not a lot of opportunity for audio or visual privacy. The Office could definitely use some phone booths/quiet rooms.
  • Desks – not looking too ergonomically correct. Some improved modular systems furniture might improve employee satisfaction and reduce time out of the office for health reasons.

Any other ideas out there?

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