Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The "Pod"...

The organization where I work is one of the leading organizations in Canada -- North America, in fact. We are known as a "Centre for Excellence", and the organization has definitely earned that title. A study done by our organization was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. No small potatoes, by any means... But when it comes to organizational thinking, well, let's just say there is room for improvement there.

I have worked for the organization for ten years, and my work space was wonderful, with lots of space and natural light. I could watch the seasons change, and any time my eyes needed a rest, I could look out the windows at the clouds or sun, or rain, or whatever. And the air quality was good -- just like little Baby Bear's porridge -- not too hot and not too cold. Everything was perfect, until a design company was hired to "improve" our work space.


The first thing they did was build walls around us; they call it a "pod". Natural light? Gone. They gave us desks that are too small; all our space ... gone. Then they squeezed us all into one little corner where there is no air. We feel crammed into each other's personal space, but because of the new walls on the "pod" our area actually takes up more space than it did before. And everything is grey.  The good thing is, we get more work done because we're too depressed to socialize.

My advice to any designer would be, if it ain't broke, don't fix it -- unless you're the one who has to live with it.


joanne said...

sounds gloomy...too much like our grey weather for me!

June said...

I always admire the look of those pods in offices. They look so tidy, probably because there isn't enough room NOT to be tidy.
A regular little Levittown of a workplace now, isn't it?

VioletSky said...

oh dear lord, what a waste of time, money and effort. I think a revolt is in order.

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

"...if it ain't broke, don't fix it..."

And that could be said, to most any/all so-called-improvements! Seems just when one becomes content with use of this or that... Someone comes along [and gets paid good $$$$ for] saying that it needs to be tweaked.

Then, the poor user of the product, has to learn the use of it, all over again. -sigh-

Of course, in products, it adds to the gotta-buy-a-new-one point. Which adds to the product seller's profits.

But who bothered to pay good $$$ to some design company, to come in and mess up your work space?????????



Russell said...

Bureaucracy at its finest!

Take something that is working just fine and figure out a way to totally screw it up.

Then have meetings after meetings after meetings to figure out how how the problem that was created by the bureaucractic mess can be fixed.

Eventually it will be determined to go back to the way it was before and then someone will win an award for coming up with such a great idea! Heh!!

DJan said...

Sigh. My own version of this came around many times in my three decades working for the same place. I did have one of those pod things once upon a time. The one thing I missed was natural light and space. My very last office was wonderful, though, and it was tough to give it up in order to retire.

Bagman and Butler said...

Gotta love bureaucracy! Well, no you don't. I agree that efficiency designers need to live with the results of their work.

Judi said...

I haven't commented in awhile but I have been following.

Being the introvert that I am, I actually prefer the "pod". I can concentrate better and don't feel overstimulated by all the surrounding activity. I do seem to be the exception, however.

Having said that, I work at home three days a week and have the natural light, the quiet except for birds chirping outside and, most times, a cat in my lap.

Tom said...

I don't know, you seem terrrribly old-fashioned to me ...

You go to work and expect to be able to see past the pod wall that's been put there for your convenience.

And you want natural light ... the next thing you know, you'll want to be able to open a window!

You go for a walk outside, and you want people to pay attention to nature instead of their electronic devices. What, are you a commie or something?!?

You make a phone call -- here's a real thigh-slapper -- and you expect a real person to answer the phone!

You go to a store, and you expect a salesperson to wait on you. Don't you realize this would require the company to hire an actual employee?!? That would ruin the entire economy of North America!

Linda Myers said...

I had a window seat for years, though pods went up around me. Then, in the last year I worked, the company installed enormous air conditioning vents on the roof for our computer room. So I had a view of the vents. Talk about employee motivation!

Leslie: said...

Love Russell's response - reminds me of the education system. The new teachers come up with the absolute BEST ideas! It's how we taught in the "olden days." lol

Alicia said...

I think the key comment you made is "The good thing is, we get more work done because we're too depressed to socialize."

That's perhaps why they really did that?

It's funny because I have an office and all I see is the file cabinets in front of my desk...no window, natural light...nothing! It does get depressing.

My sister who works as a district secretary for a cemetery has her desk right in front of a huge picture window facing graves and headstones and trees and grass. It's kind of odd don't you think?

Jo said...

As my British friends say, "Bloody Hell."

How perfectly awful.I'd love to see the designers' work space.

Sorry you're light, changing seasons, and space are gone. Such is so often the way of "progress."


One of the reasons I started my own business back in 1980, was so I could control the environment; have my music playing softly - wind-chimes and a 'view' while working. I believe when one is in pleasant surroundings they actually get MORE done (as I did) because they are energized by the light; the smells - the positive sounds that give you a feeling of health and strength.

I would find myself smiling all the time as I talked to my clients and it even could be detected by the clients as they'd mention how happy I sounded.

At least take some of your paintings and pin them up; put a fresh plant on your desk, and a few inspirational sayings right in front of your 'face' so you can cheer up the place a bit.

Hope said...

Oh, the joy of the cubicle farm. I have spent my career (such as it is) in the world of office furniture manufacturers and their vendors. The first 15 years were with a manufacturer of those 'pods' or cubicles as we call them. (Scott Adams has made a fortune with Dilbert doing the easy parody of that environment.) Believe me, when you work for the creator of those pods, you sit in all varieties of them. None are fun.

Last year I FINALLY took a job where I work from home. I sit in a loft office that overlooks my great room and out the windows I see a river floating by. I cannot tell you how much this has improved my mental health.

Your picture made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Hang in there. They will likely take Russell's advice in a short while. Sorry this happened to you. Natural light and viewing the outside is known to make workers happier and more productive. Ironically, these studies were funded by the manufacturers of the pods.