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Tech's Top 10 Workspaces 213

theodp writes "Looking to escape your Initech-like surroundings with your next job? Valleywag has culled its picks for Tech's Top 10 Workspaces from Office Snapshots, where you'll find plenty of other Best-Places-to-Work contenders. So how does your Cubicle measure up to the competition?" Pixar, Netflix, and other places. Makes the Slashdot Fortress look like a hovel even though we replaced the dirt floors last month.
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Tech's Top 10 Workspaces

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  • In bed (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:02AM (#23322810)
    with the real doll, eating a sandwich playing wii....
  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:02AM (#23322812)

    look like the Six Apart place, only less well decorated. I hate cube farms and am glad they're not the fashion in the UK. Open Plan for the win.
    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:35AM (#23323150) Journal
      Open Plan for the win.

      Ugh, I don't like cubicles much, but I loathe "Open" designs.

      They work well in living spaces where you feel safe and comfortable, and make optimal use of soft lighting to relax.

      In an office environment, I want by back to a nice solid wall, only one easy approach vector to my side of the desk, a comfy chair, and a coffee pot. Outside that, I really don't care (though the fewer old-style fluorescent light tubes - Up to and including "total darkness" - the better).
      • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:12AM (#23323490) Homepage

        I agree. I hate big, open floorplans. I'm not a huge fan of cubicles either, but at least they give some degree of privacy and isolation. A big open space just has too many distractions for me. People walking by, conversations I'm not interested in, etc.

        I've worked at Initech (except we called it "Motorola"). I've worked in a private office with real walls and a real door. I've worked in a big bullpen. For me, the best environment is working in a real office (with a door and walls all the way to the ceiling) with about four other people who are working on the same project. We can have relevant work conversations without having to all pack up and move to a conference room, and without having to hear the guys next door who are working on something else.

      • by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:36PM (#23325548) Journal
        My big objection to open workspaces is the lack of noise control. As a creative worker (software developer), I get most of my job done by switching back and forth between two modes: discussion mode and focused mode.

        Discussion mode is typically animated and noisy; happens at random unpredictable times; most frequently involves the same one or two people, occasionally involves others; often needs a whiteboard; etc.

        Focus mode is the rest of the time, mostly happens at my desk, and I need quiet in order to be at my most productive. No music, no white noise, no intercom, no fax machine beeping that it's out of paper, no cell phones with hip-hop ring tones ringing at full volume, no animated discussions happening "right over there".

        IMHO, open office plans are the worst of all worlds for creative workers. When I'm in discussion mode, I'm bothering everyone else. And because everyone else needs to have those discussions too, it's nearly impossible for me to really get into focus mode. I don't need to be alone in an office, but the ability to close the door around two or three or four people who can be noisy without disrupting others or be quiet and get some creative work done is not optional, it's essential. If you can't do that, you just turned down the productivity knob by some significant fraction.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by raw-sewage ( 679226 )

          My big objection to open workspaces is the lack of noise control. As a creative worker (software developer), I get most of my job done by switching back and forth between two modes: discussion mode and focused mode. Discussion mode is typically animated and noisy; happens at random unpredictable times; most frequently involves the same one or two people, occasionally involves others; often needs a whiteboard; etc. Focus mode is the rest of the time, mostly happens at my desk, and I need quiet in order t

    • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:00AM (#23323374) Homepage
      Count me out for Open Designs.

      They work well if you're ten people. They feel like sweatshops when you're 80. They're loud, lack privacy, and its too easy for people to yell across the room or walk up to your desk instead of forcing them to think about whether they really need to initiate the communication in the first place or if its something they can figure out/live without in the first place.

      Open Concepts are music to a companies' ears. They're cheap as hell. Designers/artists/loud people love them. But engineers who can't do math while listening to music on headphones rightfully hate them.
      • by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:52AM (#23323938) Homepage

        Count me out for Open Designs.

        They work well if you're ten people. They feel like sweatshops when you're 80. They're loud, lack privacy, and its too easy for people to yell across the room or walk up to your desk instead of forcing them to think about whether they really need to initiate the communication in the first place or if its something they can figure out/live without in the first place.

        Open Concepts are music to a companies' ears. They're cheap as hell. Designers/artists/loud people love them. But engineers who can't do math while listening to music on headphones rightfully hate them.
        Not all artists love them.

        Doing concept art and trying to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the piece you're working on is much harder if you're surrounded by noisy solipsists.
        • At my last "open plan" situation my co-workers stole stuff from my desk. They didn't just borrow my stapler, they stole my personal property. There was a lot of general pilferage, in fact, so bad that the company had to install security cameras. The natural temptation was to blame the cleaning staff, but I don't think they were behind it.

          Keep your moronic music to yourself, keep your eyes off my screen, and keep your hands off my desk.
  • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:05AM (#23322846)
    Most of those office spaces look cool and hip, but not very comfortable, productive, or private. Sitting in a windowsill with a laptop looks like fun for about 5 minutes.
    • by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:19AM (#23322972)
      Open spaces are for companies that don't want to spend money.
      • It's also because they're too stupid to read Joel on Software regarding offices [joelonsoftware.com] and his own office [joelonsoftware.com]. Instead, many of them keep doing things that are poison to "knowledge workers," a phrase I hate but that nonetheless describes the kind of people discussed here.
        • by ednopantz ( 467288 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @05:23PM (#23330024)
          Or they read him and found his advice useless.

          1 have a huge amount of income and no investors to satisfy.
          2 have a landlord willing to bend over backwards for you
          3 take your vast sums and spend them on an architect.
          4 take lots of pics and brag about how smart you are.

          What he doesn't talk about are the crappy borrowed offices he used when they actually developed their product.

          That's before one goes into the less obvious problems with his "everybody gets an office" model.

          What about collaboration? I leave my office and go to yours? You leave yours and come to mine? Neither is very conducive to his vaunted hallway usability tests. (Wait, a blogger's advice isn't internally consistent! Not that!)

          While the Slashbot loves the "everyone is stupid but me" mentality, these are actually not easy problems to resolve.

          Hint: If our needs were solitary workers who can be left alone in their offices, we would send the work to Raj's office in Bangalore for 1/4 of your salary. The reason we don't is that we need you and your colleagues to solve these problems. And that requires both concentration and collaboration.

          This is coming from someone who looked at private offices and decided that would kill our small team collaboration work [maybe offering better, but maybe not] and would cost us a ton of money.

          • by Kent Recal ( 714863 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:20PM (#23332398)

            This is coming from someone who looked at private offices and decided that would kill our small team collaboration work [maybe offering better, but maybe not] and would cost us a ton of money.

            If that's your opinion then I'm grateful that I don't have to work for you.
            You have either found an amazingly rare breed of programmers (those that function well in a noisy environment) or you simply have no idea how programmers actually work. I strongly suspect the latter.

            Read up on some of the comments from the "trenches". We don't make up this stuff about "conversation mode" and "focus mode". We don't ask for offices with doors because we like status-symbols. We ask for them because we can work better that way by pretty much every metric.

            How did you come to the conclusion that separate offices would kill your team's collaboration work?
            Do they literally yell across the room "Joe, can you review my last checkin?" or spontanously summon flashmob meetings?

            Yes, working in one big room can work well for up to maybe 10 people. But I have witnessed time after time that it simply doesn't scale beyond that.
            People have a natural tendency to take the shortest path to solve their problems and when the shortest path means walking (or yelling) across the room then that will be used. No policy helps that. Furthermore there's always a "new guy" around asking a constant stream of questions, there's always some important gossip to exchange and there's always someone walking around behind your back.

            As much as we like to deny it, we're still animals. You can not defy psychology. Someone talking or just walking behind your back *will* disturb your concentration. Most of the time you don't even notice because we all have developed filters against such distractions. But keeping those filters up constantly costs energy. Energy that can not be used for productive work anymore.

            In each new economy "loft" that I have worked in so far there were some people who'd regularly come in very early, stay in when everybody else went for food,
            or stay very late. When asked about that they all had the same answer: "These are the best (read: only) times where I can actually get shit done."

            So, for god's sake, if you want to get the most out of your employees then give them choice. Some people *like* to work in a big-room, maybe because they're really that rare breed or (my pet theory) because they think they can make up for their slacking with socializing. But most tech workers, and programmers in particular, will happily take the office with a door and will thank it with a highly improved performance.
    • by bestinshow ( 985111 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:53AM (#23323298)
      Hey, I have a desk looking out of a window. This is apparently the office dream, to get an office or cubicle with a window.

      The sun is shining through and the heat is getting absorbed by the monitors, which make noises as they expand. I burned my hand almost yesterday when I left my mouse sitting in the sunlight.

      In addition, the screens are really hard to read when the light is shining through onto the desk.

      And it's an open plan office room (4 people), so I can't rearrange.

      If I pull the blind down, it just makes it worse, because the blind is white, it just acts as a giant back light. Yay.

      No air conditioning either, because it's the UK. However I suspect that we'll demand that soon.
      • No air conditioning either, because it's the UK.

        You know, I've heard a lot of people complain about that in the UK. Why on earth haven't they adopted AC yet? I know they have summers there, no?

        Is it because it's really difficult to retrofit the buildings, or are they just too stubborn to change? I mean, it's not like AC is some radically new invention or something.

        • by Jellybob ( 597204 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:08AM (#23323452) Journal
          In our case we can't get AC installed because our office is in a listed building, so making modifications is a nightmare - we had to get planning permission just to run a leased line in.
          • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
            Here in the U.S., our restrictions aren't that onerous. "Historically significant" buildings are relatively rare and most cities don't have much regulation of them (with notable exceptions like parts of Charleston, SC and certain small historic districts). The national designation of a "National Register of Historic Places" building basically just means you can't use federal funds to demolish or alter it (you're free to use private funds to do anything you like). Zoning laws, building codes, etc. are genera
          • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:04PM (#23324870) Homepage
            Just do what we do in Ottawa. No modifications required [kibbee.ca].
        • In my case it's because we moved into the offices only a few months ago, and the building is also quite old and potentially listed.

          Any modern office building would have A/C of course. Typically this would be set up so that the A/C unit would work in winter, but fail in the summer, or you'd be working in a small sub-zero patch of the office all year round.
        • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @12:54PM (#23325944)

          You know, I've heard a lot of people complain about that in the UK. Why on earth haven't they adopted AC yet? I know they have summers there, no?
          Our summers last about three days so it's not worth installing AC.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Corf ( 145778 )
        They moved me to my department's sole window cube a few months ago -- two cube walls and huge window makes the third. It faces north, so the sun never shines on my stuff, but it's got an HVAC unit right under it, so I control how warm or cold it gets.

        It faces Discovery Communications HQ with a cluster of nice trees in the foreground.

        Window FTW.
      • They make windows just for that, they are double pane with a small venetian blind thingee in between the panes. Too hot or bright, you can crank it all the way closed or leave it partial for *some* light. Cold outside you can open it all the way to let some warmth in.

        You could also get a whiteboard for "conferencing" and set it up in front of the window for a sunshade if your office cow-orkers agree.

        With that said, telecommuting is where it is at. That's the greenest of all, no need for huge office building
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 )
      No kidding, those pictures are just "colorful" at best. Definitely wouldn't be a dream for any person who deals with computers most of the day. Wheres the big screens? Where's the DUAL(+) monitors (okay, there was 1 pic with them, but they were facing away)?!

      I would like to think multiple monitors would be about the best thing, in fact... it's what keeps me happy at my job. Browse slashdot and code.
  • Far too 'modern' (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:12AM (#23322896)
    Those listed are far too modern for my taste. My office hasn't changed much since this building used to be owned by IBM, but I can't help but wonder if in 40 years these unique offices don't seem hopelessly outdated. Till then, my generic flat surface works pretty well for my general office like tasks. My company gives me the option to work a bit from home, so I can implement my own personal style there.

    I've tried to work in a few of the more avant garde spaces that some companies try to set up, it's hard to compete with what already 'works'. Too often I find that the curvy chair just doesn't feel as comfortable for over 10 minutes, and that the stylish workspace simply doesn't have enough space to work. And then, you still have the problem that you are working in a space designed by someone else. It won't fit anyone, and when you are dealing with something so unique, the minor annoyances end up feeling 10x worse.

    At home, I can design my office to be exactly what I want in my office. It is perfect for the individual using it.

    Now, that isn't to say that many of these places couldn't do with some colors other than grey and beige, but in my opinion a great workspace is the one that you barely notice when trying to do your work. My office may be grey and beige, but the facilities people here have created a beautiful nature trail that is designed to be used for a calm walk through a valley near the buildings.

    It is simple, and doesn't try to force any of the employees into what almost feels like a lifestyle themed apartment instead of an office. It works great if it is your apartment, but what happens when you don't like the owner's taste in decoration?
    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:36AM (#23323154)

      I think smart employers would treat their lower level employees like their mid to higher level ones (i.e. design your own office). Even if it was just to bring in your own furniture, I think there might be too many places out there that have a "take it as it is and don't touch it" attitude with their office space.

      • Re:Far too 'modern' (Score:5, Interesting)

        by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:03AM (#23323398)
        The biggest talk in the office was when they started distributing 24" LCDs to all employees. Many of us now have two displays, I keep one aligned to read documents, and the other is my 'scratch' working display.

        Although, when someone was testing a video teleconference system he had a 50" plasma display in his cube. He was in the bowels of the building, so one day when he was out we put a video camera in one of our windows and set it up as a participant. When he came back from his trip, he suddenly had a cube with a 'view'. :)
      • Yeah.

        One thing that I would put in my own office is one of those classic couches you see in Shrinks offices. Currently I work from home and my favorite place is on the bed with my laptop.

        Sometimes I work on the PC at a desk, and the bed is my absolute fav.

        Since a bed in an office would be a nono (unless you have very specific plans for it) one of those couches would be good to work on.

        And I have little use for a desk - except when working on a desktop PC from time to time - because I have achieved the paper
    • by rabiddeity ( 941737 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:17AM (#23323540) Homepage
      The problem with gray and beige is that they are offensive precisely because they are trying to be so inoffensive. They're bland and ugly. Gray reminds me of concrete, which is durable but hideous unless you're designing parking garages. And beige seems to be the default color of anything that isn't supposed to look dirty... but it never really looks clean either. Have you ever tried to get an old beige box to look clean? It's impossible.

      You want inoffensive? Silver is metallic, but clean. White gets dirty, looks boring on walls, but if office furniture isn't white on a white floor against a white wall, it can look pretty good. Black can look good if the rest of the office isn't gray and beige. Browns look great if they're actual wood, and dark stained wood can look downright elegant as long as it's not fiberboard crap from Ikea. Hell, even transparent glass or plastic for countertops or work surfaces looks pretty good (as long as you don't have to run an optical mouse on it). Other colors might offend certain people, but at least they won't be bland.

      Here's offensive: every single office worker's desk in Japan is made out of metal, and painted gray and beige, and is exactly the same dimensions, right down to the three shelves. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I swear there must be a single company that makes all office desks in this country. They're so generic and utilitarian it makes me want to find the guy who designed them and slit his throat, spilling his blood all over the damn things. Maybe at least that would give it some color. And you wonder why the suicide rate is so high here, it's because of all the gray and beige in the concrete cities and in the offices and in the prefab apartments with their beige plastic walls. People need color and variety and texture or they go nuts. Does painting the thing navy blue instead of beige really cost all that much more?
    • My office may be grey and beige, but the facilities people here have created a beautiful nature trail that is designed to be used for a calm walk through a valley near the buildings.

      You don't happen to work at GE Plastics in Chicago, do you? I visited that office once and was impressed by how they imbued the typical, cubicled office with a zen-like atmosphere. It was subtle touches - the prints used for the carpets and cubicle walls, high ceilings, strategically placed windows - that made all the difference
  • by trolltalk.com ( 1108067 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:12AM (#23322904) Homepage Journal

    They like right angles and clean surfaces at Austin-based interactive agency Tocquigny's offices. We do too.

    The place looks COLD! Who designed it? The same guy who did Blade Runner's interiors?

    6 apart still has mostly a cubicle-world look; the "oh gee we have a place to stash your bicycle, and a couch!" don't change that. It takes more than a few "exposed brick" walls to "give character."

    Pixar looks interesting - but how come everyone chooses couches that don't look like they'd be all that comfy to SIT IN???

    I don't know - they still all look awfully "corporate".

    • by Surlyboi ( 96917 )
      The average PHB would probably say something along the lines of "You don't use couches that are comfy to sit in because you don't want people lounging in them when they could be working."

      Kinda makes sense, I know I'd pass the hell out on a comfy couch.
  • Workspace disconnect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Etrias ( 1121031 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:14AM (#23322932)
    I always wanted to work at a place you would see in the movies of the "typical" high-tech work area. Lot's of screens, overflowing with gadgets hooked up in arcane ways, sitting in your command chair of awsomeness in dark rooms with moody, dramatic lighting that would reflect part of the display into your face if you gazed into it a certain way.

    Working in tech, you realize what a load of bullshit that is. I schlep my three year old Compaq laptop loaded with Xubuntu to my clients who have their servers stuck in closets or storage rooms. I have my one screen, dirty from use and abuse, I sit on folding chairs and bathed in florescent light, surrounded by boxes filled with office supplies.

    • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:22AM (#23323010)
      Even at the places that work on 'cool' things, you will find that it is very similar to what you describe and very unlike the movies. The latest fighter planes don't get built in a facility that looks like some hobbiest's garage. Of course, when you are trying to sell those things, then all of a sudden out jump the minority report displays, the flashy graphics, and the promo videos.

      The movie stuff only exists in marketing.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:45AM (#23323240)
      I once worked at a place that tried to "high tech" up their lobby to impress clients. Within a year or two, most of the cool (and expensive) plasma displays they used had either stopped working altogether or developed glitches and burn-in. Their "high tech" lobby ended up looking like a shabby tech scrap-yard. When they finally redesigned it again, they went back to the traditional design they had before they wasted a lot of money.

      I suspect the idea of the "cool, high tech, hip" office space, with gadgets and displays everywhere, is a fiction invented by more by movies and wishful thinking than anything else. I remember Tom Clancy laughing in the DVD commentary track for "The Sum of All Fears" about the CIA offices being shown as these high-tech wonders with glass that could be rendered opaque for security proposes, etc. "Well, what do real CIA offices look like?" asked the director. "Like any other boring office," Clancy replied.

    • by alan_dershowitz ( 586542 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:53AM (#23323302)
      I worked at a power company over the summers during college. One summer I worked as an assistant in the monitoring center, which was a giant room inside a concrete dome that was rated to withstand an F5 hurricane (the site is in the midwest.) Behind a couple sets of keycarded locked doors, you came into a circular dimmed room with a giant map from floor to (_very_ high) ceiling of the entire service area of the power company, with lights indicating status of electricity and water pressure in the different parts of the water system. In the center there was a long circular console lined with monitors showing power plant stats and weather reports and other stuff. The walls were all accent-lit with natural light bulbs, it looked really cool and modern. Against one of the walls was a large bank of "something" with blinking green lights. About two weeks in, a guy comes out from behind and starts talking to me, it turns out there was another little office back there with a couple of HP-UX machines nestled among a mountain of tech manuals running a SCADA system.

      It looked pretty much like you see in the movies, only it wasn't messy like on some shows except for that little office.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sobrique ( 543255 )
      The real world is more mundane, but I did at a previous workplace have a multi-computer, multi-monitor rig. That was lovely. Now, not so much.

      I'd love a 'more sci-fi' workspace, but I'd settle for a PoeticTech Aura: http://www.poetictech.com/aura/index.html [poetictech.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You need to get into high [fnal.gov] energy [yale.edu] physics [fnal.gov] then.
    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:35AM (#23324366)
      Working in tech, you realize what a load of bullshit that is.

      it is, but only if you have NOT been in such companies.

      I actually have. been in the silicon valley area since the early 90's working for quite a lot of the big names.

      back when it was an employees market (sigh!) things REALLY were good for us. I did have several sgi widescreen displays on my desk plus laptops and other misc monitors and embedded systems with cables all over the place. this was in the 1998-2001 era.

      silicon valley was all you imagine. it still is, but less and less so. things have changed a lot over the past 15 yrs or so and having google replace SGI wasn't really the kind of change I was hoping for, in the local area.. (just as one random example of a silicon valley 'paradigm shift').

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Those places exist [joelonsoftware.com], after a fashion. See more here [joelonsoftware.com].

      I've also been in Microsoft's Redmond campus, where a lot of people having pretty sweet offices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      I work in medical imaging. The radiologists like their rooms dark of course. My office (three of us) recently decided that we look much cooler if we turn out the lights too. So now you walk into the dark room and we're each sitting in front of multiple 23" screens.

      Do you have a link for a command chair of awesomeness though? That IS missing. And I am definitely looking forward to having a wall (or more) that's a screen.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by StarfishOne ( 756076 )

        Do you have a link for a command chair of awesomeness though? That IS missing. And I am definitely looking forward to having a wall (or more) that's a screen.

        Here you go.

        Chair [elitechoice.org]

        Wall/screen [primenova.com]

  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:19AM (#23322968) Homepage Journal
    I work from home when I am not travelling. Granted, I travel 1-3 weeks out of each month (average is maybe 3 days every other week), but when I am not travelling you can keep all your fancy high tech offices. I have it far better in my high tech home office.

    Plus there is nobody to tell me I can't have a beer during afternoon conference calls.
    • by Ford Prefect ( 8777 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:25AM (#23323034) Homepage

      Plus there is nobody to tell me I can't have a beer during afternoon conference calls.

      Also, the dress code is much more relaxed - in that clothes are entirely optional!

      * prances *

      Note: working from home can instil bad habits, such as the above. Remember that other, real offices may look down upon such behaviour, so do remember to wear clothes for external meetings...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dreamchaser ( 49529 )
        Yeah you remind me about that NOW. Too late I'm afraid. At least I didn't get fired.

        Kidding aside, I tend to dress business casual most days even at home. It helps with my mindset. Fridays I wear jeans and a tshirt.
      • Remember that other, real offices may look down upon such behaviour, so do remember to wear clothes for external meetings...

        And remember to wear them for internal meetings too, especially if visitors are coming over.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        How else can a fat, hairy, middle-aged man make $300 an hour wearing only his underwear?
        • I am a bit underpaid then, and I should probably gain some weight. I do fit the 'hairy' and 'middle aged' description though.
    • by funkify ( 749441 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:17AM (#23323544)
      You've forgotten perhaps the #1 benefit of working from home...

      NEVER NEEDING TO POOP IN PUBLIC PLACES!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Plus there is nobody to tell me I can't have a beer during afternoon conference calls.

      You can't have a beer during afternoon conference calls.

    • by metlin ( 258108 )
      Tell me about it!

      I travel 4 days a week, and hell, all I need is my Blackberry, laptop and my noise cancelling headphones, and I am a happy camper.

      And besides, I could be anywhere - airport, restaurant or home, so who cares if I'm sipping a beer? Can't beat the lifestyle.

      And when I'm home, tracks and a tee and a beer. w00t!

  • by LinuxDon ( 925232 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:21AM (#23322992)
    I wonder how the others look like.
    A lot of them look like you'll grow RSI within one month. I actually prefer my own office with an ergonomic setup, a proper adjustable office chair, large windows and a door.
    • Some of us don't even have a door, you insensitive clod!

      My office is a sealed room with no doors and a single tiny unbreakable window.
    • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:34AM (#23323142)
      Although this only works if you have enough space/resources I have always preferred offices without doors. When I require privacy then I excuse myself to a conference room.

      In my case, it isn't that I don't like my privacy, it is that I enjoy it too much and too easily shut the door and shut myself off from the rest of the group.

      When you use an office with a door, you will still have people knock and check in to see if you are free, but when I started to use the conference room approach, it forced me to make sure that privacy was really necessary and that when I was in the conference room with a closed door, it meant it was closed for a good reason.

      Not for everyone though, just my own personal (limited) experience.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Zebedeu ( 739988 )
        My office has a door, but I keep it open at all times, except when I'm on extended phone calls (so I don't disturb my colleagues) or the few moments where I really require privacy (small meetings, changing my clothes, fucking the secretary).

        I found out that having the door closed shuts me from the rest of the offices and "uninvites" people from stop by. Since my colleagues aren't doing it very often, I usually welcome a chance to take a small break to chat, or help someone out.

        Some people do like their priv
        • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:08AM (#23324092)
          When you mentioned the secretary, that reminds me of another issue with the modern office.

          One of the 'casualties' of the modern office seems to have been the secretary. I suppose it is for lack of understanding of just how much productivity a competant secretary can add. Too many people seem to assume that a secretary is just a receptionist, but a good secretary should be viewed as nearly as important/necessary as the person that they are supporting.

          Without getting too much into the topics, it is my view that a secretary should be viewed as more of a "Alfred from Batman" than a "Daisy the receptionist". The trick of course, is that if you expect the secretary to hold that much responsibility, then the pay needs to match.

          However, I've seen people looking for true personal assistants who had no clue what they should be offering someone who will essentially be running their estate. If your income is enough that you can shrug off a 1-3 million dollar loss in an investment, then you are going to need to offer someone more than $8/hour... Unless of course, you plan to continue to shrug off those poor decisions.
  • The problems... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Notquitecajun ( 1073646 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:22AM (#23323016)
    1. Most/all are in big cities. No thanks. 1-2 hour commutes to travel 30 miles? Meh. Give me a less-comfortable area in some non-generic suburbs.

    2. All-indoor jobs. I'd wager that the best "workspace" isn't indoors. There are days I envy park rangers. Yeah, you can make an office comfortable, but keep in mind that it's STILL an office.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jslater25 ( 1005503 )
      1. I would rather live in the big city and deal with my 25 minute commute then live out in the boonies and have to drive an hour to pick up groceries, go to the movies, shop, go to the hospital/doctor/dentist, take my car to the mechanic, or use the airport. 2. FYI, park rangers have their own set of problems. Weather (rain, snow ,sleet, hail, etc.) being one of the least worrisome. Park rangers are often called in for drug busts and raids. Park rangers also have the unenviable task of dealing with some o
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Have you actually ever been outside of a city, or do you just get your information about "boonies" from the New York Times? You would have to live pretty damn far into the wilderness to have to "drive an hour to pick up groceries, go to the movies, shop, go to the hospital/doctor/dentist, take my car to the mechanic, or use the airport". It may come as a surprise you, but small towns actually do have doctors! And stores! The only thing there that is likely true is the airport. So indeed, if you fly out of a
      • Ichh. Cities. Have to go to Seattle tomorrow. It will take me 7 minutes to get to the airport in this remote town. A minute or so to park. Nod to the TSA folks. A hopefully pleasant two hour flight (provided Alaska doesn't mechanical the plane for some reason). Then 15 minutes on the tarmac in Seattle waiting for a gate to open. Then 30 minutes to get my luggage, 30 minutes to find a bus to get to the rental car lot then Bog-knows-how-long dealing with the parking lot on I5.

        I'll deal with the bears

    • "1. Most/all are in big cities. No thanks. 1-2 hour commutes to travel 30 miles? Meh. Give me a less-comfortable area in some non-generic suburbs."

      Get your company to set you up with a bus pass. I commute to downtown Kansas City from the suburbs and it's glorious with an iPod. :)
    • Have you ever seen what park rangers make? It makes the fry cook at McDonalds look like serious career advancement.

      I'm with you on the big cities thing. There are good reasons to locate an office in a city, but there are really bad ones, too. If you can get the people you need without being downtown, you can do so much more if you locate in the outskirts of a small city. If they'd move out of their $50-75/sf office towers, they could afford to do very good design. Then again, those companies aren't exactly
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eln ( 21727 )
      I used to envy park rangers, but not anymore. Apparently, these days the job is mostly dealing with dangerous drug runners either growing pot or stashing other drugs out in the boonies of the national parks. Also, the drug runners have guns and the rangers don't.

      Then there's dealing with the general public and their disrespect for the park. I actually got to work with a park ranger once, and it was thrilling. It was at Carlsbad Caverns. I got to hold his flashlight while he climbed down to pick up some
  • Everyone has their cubicle or "area" but it's just another panoptic [associatedcontent.com] workplace surveillance system so capital can track and regulate labour. Making it "fun" or "cool looking" is of no relevance to me. Changing how work is organised and accomplished is much more interesting.

    Of course, given the depth of indoctrination in our society, speaking about such things is 21st century blasphemy. After all, we know what "works" - even though what "works" is pushing us all over a cliff of ecocide.

    sigh....

    RS

  • by b0ng0r ( 1140509 ) *
    with a door, that can be locked. And a culture that says it's ok to do that. It's like heaven, without all those virgins....
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:29AM (#23323082)
    All these neat looking open spaces and cubicles are my worst nightmare. I've managed to spend my entire career having my own private offices and my worst nightmare is to ever have to work in an open space or a cubicle--listening to every asshole in the office, having everyone looking over my shoulder, etc. THAT was one of the big things what made the fictional "Initech" such a terrible place to work (remember Peter having to listen to "Welcome to Initech. Please Hold." over-and-over again all day? Nothing builds morale like private offices. Open spaces just turn everyone into Less Nessmans (if anyone still remembers that reference).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Couldn't agree more. In my last job, I worked in a semi-open kind of area (cubicles, but only 8 of them) and now I have an office. I LOVE the ability to get a coffee then close the door, light a cigarette (I live in a country where that's okay in the office!), turn on some quiet background music and get down to serious coding.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by claytonjr ( 1142215 )
      I agree, it gets to be a headache to listen to everyone around you, all the time. If you have have to deal with the "bull pin" style office, the partitions and an ipod can help ease the pain

      Slightly off topic: It's spelled "Les" Nessman, with one S. WKRP rocked.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Nessman [wikipedia.org]

      Even more off topic: I just realized how old I am. Now get off my lawn.
    • All these neat looking open spaces and cubicles are my worst nightmare. I've managed to spend my entire career having my own private offices and my worst nightmare is to ever have to work in an open space or a cubicle--listening to every asshole in the office, having everyone looking over my shoulder, etc.

      Open work areas aren't necessarily bad. They can increase information sharing and productivity. They don't have to be huge, and not all coworkers are annoying. It depends on the culture.

  • Pixar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:30AM (#23323094)
    I remember reading an article on Pixar's HQs a long time ago, and one thing that stood out to me was that there's only one pair of bathrooms in the entire complex. This is to encourage people to run into each other and interact more frequently. I'm sorry, but that would just bug me. When I need to go to the bathroom, I don't want to be interrupted to have a conversation, nor do I want to hear other people yapping away while they do their business. But I guess that's just me....

    Oblig urinal joke: "I hear this is where all the dicks hang out."
  • by ibmjones ( 52133 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:30AM (#23323100) Homepage
    Google's Zürich offices also have a fireman's pole.

    . . . . . . .riiiiiiiight.
  • by Just Another Perl Ha ( 7483 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:30AM (#23323104) Journal
    The "style" of the furniture in an office doesn't mean crap if the people are assholes and the policies oppressive. This article is about as asinine as the one a few months back attempting to explain why techies never make it in the boardroom... and proceeded to list off ten fashion faux pas.

    Gebus! Some people just don't get it.

    Our friends at Slashdot really should re-title this piece as "Top 10 best looking tech workplaces"... otherwise, they're just being terribly disingenuous.

    Shame on you /.
    • In my experience, very often the look and feel of the work place is a good indication of how a company treats it's workers in general. Not in the sense of having Garfield toys on the tables, fancy chairs or unusual gadgets, more like:

      - Is it cheap open space? Is it open spaces with tall barriers and sound separators? Cubicles? Team offices?
      - Is there plenty of natural light? Tall ceilings? Plants?
      - How good is coffee? Is it free?

      In my experience, companies which use the cheapest possible open space configur
  • Fog Creek (Score:5, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:34AM (#23323144) Homepage
    They missed Fog Creek [joelonsoftware.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Guanine ( 883175 )
      Yes, Fog Creek got their office design really really right. I like Joel's focus on the fundamental concept that, while open spaces are cool and can be quite useful, you can't have your entire office be an open space... programmers need PRIVATE PEACE AND QUIET. As he writes in his post about designing the offices [joelonsoftware.com]:

      Private offices with doors that close were absolutely required and not open to negotiation.

      I hope that places like 37Signals, etc. do have private areas where people can get some uninterrupted t

  • Or is the average /. reader convinced that there's not tech outside of IT? I work in micro and nanotechnology, and I think my job as well as my workplace, are some of the coolest in TECH. I also think the guys working on the new martian probes, work in a pretty cool place, too.
  • Find the following items in this picture [valleywag.com]:
    • * The "what's a BLOG?" sign
    • * The nesting bird
    • * The Apple brand post
    • * The Christmas ornament
    • * The not-quite-finished wiring
    • * The hot girl
    • * The scarf the hot girl used for her last heist
  • The best workspace is at home. There is nothing like teleconferencing from your backyard while you sit in the sun enjoying the weather.
  • All I want is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barzok ( 26681 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:50AM (#23323280)
    In order (for some reason I'm not seeing numbered bullets on my OL here)
    1. Peace & quiet
    2. Easy access to my co-workers, but the ability to go into "hermit" mode if need be
    3. A comfortable desk & chair
    4. Walls where I can hang whiteboards, a corkboard, and a dartboard
    5. Windows so I can get real sunlight
    6. Non-crappy artificial lighting
    7. N+1 displays where N is the number I presently have. No matter how many displays I have, I always seem to need one more. (I will accept a switch to Leopard so I can use Spaces, thus reducing my physical monitor requirements to 2-3).
    • by RabidMonkey ( 30447 ) <canadaboy@gmai l . com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:07AM (#23324070) Homepage
      I'd put the comfy chair/desk up one notch, but otherwise, bang on.

      I see too many places where they give people crappy chairs, and spend tonnes of money on other things. Frankly, if I'm going to spend 8+ hours a day parked in a chair, it'd better be comfy. I'd rather have a smaller desk and a nicer chair, than going home with a sore back, sore neck, sore wrists (poor posture in a bad chair)...

      People at my office think I'm odd because I have my desk setup backwards - it's a big U, in one corner is a keyboard tray and cable run for a computer to sit. in the other corner. nothing, which is where I have my computer. Why? Because keyboard trays are a) horrible but b) so poorly designed that it's a normal occurance, in my office at least, to hear *thud* *profanity* many times a day as people bash their knees on the stupid keyboard tray arms. That's poor planning and implementation of a workstation.

      A comfortable, functional work space is the key to working well. I think for too long comfort was forgotten, because management occasionally forgets that their resources are people, and need to be comfortable in order to work well. A day at the office shouldn't be painful.
  • It's pretty good here. All the desks are in banks of 5 seats between the corridor and window, row after row (about 15 rows per side of the building at a guess). There are seperate meeeting rooms if you need that plus rooms for video conferencing, 'quiet areas' which are mobile/phone/meeting free if you need to sit & think then each floor has a pair of communal printer/copier/fax hubs - no desk is allowed anything like that. It's bright, breezy, airy and everyone you need is usually just feet away. They
  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:23AM (#23323610)

    Remember this: no matter how nice your office space is, if you're an "interactive agency" with an unspellable/unpronounceable name like "Tocquigny", you're going to be the first to go out of business when the Dot-Com Crash 2.0 happens.

    Enjoy the pretty scenery while it lasts.
  • I always preferred a mushroom farm like atmosphere, kept in the dark and fed lots of BS daily. The cool and damp helps me flourish too!
  • Now, if I could just get rid of my co-workers, life would be perfect. . .

  • by Kartoffel ( 30238 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:01AM (#23324016)
    Looks like they've ranked workplaces according to this rubrik:
    1) Proximity to bay area.
    2) Superfluous amenities such as office fridge stocked with beer and milk*, free haircuts, sex swing chairs, steampunk decor, etc.
    3) Is a trendy Web 2.0 company. Sorry non-interweb employers, you're out of luck.

    * Who the hell drinks milk at work anyway? Flatulence ahoy!
  • I work in a bunker of a 50 year old building. I have my own office. Every person in the building has a private office, in fact. Having done both semi-private cubicles and the "open" sweatshop-style seen in TFA, I definitely think that most people would prefer the private office and get the most accomplished in it.
  • by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:25AM (#23324264)
    I worked for an employer that had some of the amenities that would help them rank in the top-10. Among them were an outdoor volleyball court and basketball court, pool tables and a chef in the cafeteria. Luckily my work hours were flexible and I didn't work more than 10 hours a day. I know some had to work longer, but they didn't seem to mind because of all the conveniences and "fun things to do" while at work. You could, on occasion, take a 5-min break to play basketball.

    I've read some major employers in the US such as insurance companies, have salons, barbershops, daycare, grocery stores all in the building. While immensely convenient (there's no denying), and as impressive looking as these offices are (looks better than most people's homes), I believe that these are all simply intended to keep employees at work as long as possible. It may be obvious to some, but I think some are in flat-out denial.
    • I agree, but I'm wondering whether or not you think it's bad that employers would do this -- kind of a counterintuitive productivity measure (at least for people exempt from overtime). I mean, why else would a company spend money other than to make more? Because they love their employees? Anyone proposing that is moving into real flat-out denial.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by failedlogic ( 627314 )
        I just wanted to limit my post size. Of course, this depends on perspective. If you really like the job, or the convenience factor, then sure its a good thing. I wouldn't have minded working a few extra hours (and did on occasion) at that job so it does work. But hours in my job were capped (more a company policy) and when the 10+ hours were needed it was a demand, again I didn't mind at all even if not paid the overtime. The problem becomes, well we're providing this because we 'demand' that you work 16 or
  • Clearly this is a case of extremely low standards. Either that or designed-by an artist or structural engineer with a degree, but no experience, in architecture or interior design.

    IMO what makes a workspace great is light, air, and natural materials. It has to have one or more windows, which _open_. No tinted glass either. Shades or blinds are also critical, and far greener than AC. Lighting should be warm. Not the sterile, cool panels covering cheap florescent bars that we are typically stuck with.

    Th
  • Windows will make all the difference in the world. I used to work in a place with windows that were about 10 feet tall, and we were right by the piers in Seattle. Mt. Rainier on the left, Puget Sound on the right - all visible while I'm sitting in my wall-less cube.

    But the commute sucked, so now I'm back to my window-less cube with 5-foot walls...
  • Well, I love working in the big open buzzy space of a dealing/trading floor in an investment bank with hundreds of people in view, though today I'm working from home and that's good too.

    Open plan isn't bad in itself, it's what you do with it IMHO.

    Rgds

    Damon

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