A Room with a View?

Our anonymous blogger muses on his new working environment as he settles into Sleepy Hollow (hopefully staying awake and avoiding any decapitated equestrians)

I am glad to report that I find myself gainfully employed once more.  My new position at Sleepy Hollow Electronics Limited, despite the pseudonym that I have given it (a matter of private amusement and therefore a conceit that I hope you will indulge), promises exciting opportunities. It has also highlighted aspects of the design environment that I have found either useful or inconsequential over the years.

Firstly there is the size of office and the number of people in it. In the past I have worked in large “cube farms”, small offices and all points between. I do not subscribe to the view that everyone being within shouting distance of each other is essential for good communication, especially in the age of e-mail and this communication is even a disadvantage if you’re sat trying to work through ideas whilst those crammed in around chatter and argue. Large offices are also crushingly anonymous so the current situation of two of us sharing a decent sized office is almost perfect.

Second is the overall environment. Most places I have worked benefit from regular expenditure on painting the walls and laying new carpet. Not here where there are marks on the wall, coffee stains down the filing cabinets and a lino floor. However so long as its serviceable and doesn’t let the rain in (one office in my past had the corner of a window missing!) I don’t mind putting the time in with duster and polish. Equally although I would prefer to be next to a window with a pleasant view I have found that this does not rate too highly on my scale of professional wants. Of greater importance is not being regularly subjected to vile smells from nearby sewage works and plastics factories. Once again, although not perfect, my new “home” scores highly.

Then there are the direct environmental influences. It used to be that when working on CAD the ambient lighting would be low with desk lamps illuminating any paperwork. Sadly this seems to be no more and as I’m sharing the office with a non-engineer there is little chance of reverting to such working practices. The most important thing though, by far, is that I now have a decent sized desk. I remain convinced that until we have A0 sized screens we will still need physical drawings. The ability to see details and context simultaneously is something I think to be not only very important but also impossible on the screen. Therefore the room to lay out a plot and associated notes is essential. Having struggled with an ever shrinking surface area over the years I can once more luxuriate in adequate acreage.

By far the best I have experienced was my own office with large windows, two bookcases, a reasonable desk, speakers hooked up to the computer, a layout table and a chaise-longue. This may be seen as the “gold standard”, however I fear I would have to start my own company to guarantee ever experiencing it again.