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What We Need in an Office

This week, my office is moving to a new building a few blocks away.


We’ve all been busy packing up, throwing things away, and smacking our foreheads at some of the things we’ve been finding tucked away in file cabinets and the bottoms of desk drawers. What I noticed, however, was how little I truly need to do my job. And on top of that, how little more I really want that makes my job easier.

Things I need:

  • Computer: it’s hard for me to imagine any office worker being able to function without access to a computer. In all of the jobs I’ve held since graduating college, I’ve needed one assigned to me. (interestingly, the only exception to this is when I was teaching college, at which time I had access to a computer lab, but not a specific machine. I ended up bringing in my own)
  • Desk: I don’t care if it’s a different desk every day (some offices have grab-your-own-work-space-every-day kind of set-ups), since I’m an INTP. But I need at least some place to rest my laptop so this doesn’t happen to me. And somewhere to put my coffee.
  • Internet: Do I have to say? I’m a social media director.

Things that make my job easier:

  • Conference Room: Much easier to hash out ideas sitting around a table than crammed into my office.
  • White board: As a college professor, I relied on the chalk board quite a bit to sketch out (hastily and with an amateur’s enthusiasm) visualizations of the concepts I was discussing (poststructuralism, anyone?) I still find it helpful to have a place to sketch during a strategy meeting.
  • Phone: True, I could bring my own phone (and my Google Voice number is on my business cards), but it’s nice to have a handset that is less likely to cause certain problems.
  • Printer: again, not mandatory, but if I’m going to study (as opposed to read) a 37-page report on the uses of social media in state governments, I’d prefer to print that out.
  • Coffee Maker: Great place to catch up with coworkers first thing in the morning. People are usually in a good mood when they’re drinking the first sips of their coffee.
  • Kitchen Area: There are a few reasons I like to bring my lunch to work. I’m a vegetarian. DC weather runs the gamut from torrential rain, to stifling heat/humidity, to untenable snowfall, with a patina of just enough absolutely gorgeous days to prevent people from moving the capital to Buffalo. Oh, and I save money. (how much depends on who’s counting)

What do you need to get your job done? What are the amenities that make your office life better? And what are some problems with your office that I could help you resolve?

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18 Comments

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Adriel Hampton

With apologies to Achimedes: Give me an internet connection fast enough and hardware on which to run it, and I shall move the world.

Adriel Hampton

Steve, at home I use a standing desk. Good for 2-3 hours, but Saturdays can get rough. Much better on my back, though.

Gadi Ben-Yehuda

Yasmin: time to go paperless! (unless you run your own consulting firm, then it’s BYO, right?)

Henry: your post is the perfect counterpoint to Yasmin’s!

Bill Brantley

@Gadi – Why not provide a MP3 Player? Most places don’t allow you to stream music from your computer and there are constant complaints from co-workers who play their radio too loud.

I can see a great market for the corporate mix-tape: plenty of inspirational sayings interspersed between music designed to make you productive. 🙂

Alice M. Fisher

This is a standard Brick & Morter office set up,
But let’s take this to a new level for discussion.
Consider the mobilution, mobile office, or the Office 2.0.

An office needs to be:

1) Ecoconscious in all aspects,
2) Ergonomic Friendly & considers an aging workforce
3) Evoloved for Business 2.0

Here is an evoled example: for making copies, running errands, getting lunch for everyone….expand from there with this conceptual thought below (yes I am stirring the pot)

For example: “HyperActive Bob” a retail fast-food robot was in making it user-friendly. This $5,000 computer system comes equipped with touch-screens and easy-to-follow instructions. “HyperActive Bob” has been tested in a number of national fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s and Burger King. The company recently landed its first big customer, Zaxby’s, a franchise chain with more than 300 outlets in the Southern regions of USA. Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06167/698696-96.stm#ixzz0fqLFMdEp

4) Have furniture on casters so it can be rearranged more easily from time to time

5) Skype enabled ( this would save huge phone, meeting, video conferencing costs potentially)

6) Have the work space coincide with how it relates to the business plan

Henry Brown

From a blog that I follow on the slow days…
Would offer that that perhaps essential is in the mind of the beholder!

10 Essential Gadgets For The Office

Many of the following gadgets will make you more productive and organized at the office, but they will also make you warmer, thinner and more intimidating with noticeably whiter teeth. If that isn’t a combination for upper management I don’t know what is.

Michael Birmingham

A short commute. The best one I ever had was from the bedroom to the den. Sadly, my office is now hour or more away depending on traffic.

Thomas J Jansheski

I believe a good Office starts with a good layout, it should follow your concurrent flow of your operations. I work for a Office Furniture dealer and we help companies out every day with the design and flow of there office layout. Furniture doesn’t always have to be new there are many slightly used inventories out there that also save companies thousands of dollars in there budgets. Another fact I believe a office enviroment should have is proper seating, you sit there all day and if it;s not a good quality chair you are ruining your posture and other bodily formations. so make your Offiice comfortable for people to be in and your results will be tremendous.

Jacqueline Hess

A door! I don’t know how people work in cubicles. Between the ambient noise, the lack of privacy, the need to whisper on the phone (or risk contributing to your colleagues’ ambient noise level), the inability to have any private conversation, and the general sense that you’re “on display” at any time, it’s amazing to me that anyone can function in that environment.

Jenyfer Johnson

I have to agree with the fast internet connection but add that it has to be one that doesn’t throw up firewalls on everyother website I try to go to (too many government Comm folks are killing us with this!).

I’d love to lose the paper but I can’t in my job so I need the shredder, file cabinets and folders!

Really good chairs? I wish the government would stop wasting money on buying stuff that looks good and buy some really good ergonomic office chairs for their office workers! Or better yet…let the workers pick out the chair they want!