At that time, me and two other new guys all started at the same time, and we were assigned their lead developer to on-board us into the environment. It was all new stuff to all of use (especially the other two guys - one was fresh out of uni, the other had never had a full-time office job - only contract work). I had only regular web-dev experience (front and back end) - but this was completely new to me.
It was server automation and management, for a hosting company. The stack was a combination of PHP mixed with Java and shell scripting. They wanted to move into cloud hosting services (VPS) - so our task was to learn the system, maintain it where necessary, and also transition things over to (ultimately) an OpenStack/OpenCloud environment (while keeping the old stuff still going, of course). It was being thrown to the wolves, because we had to get this all done in a very short time frame.
Unfortunately, they had no where to seat us in the small office - except one spot: The conference room they had interviewed us in. This was a small 9 x 12 room, with a single door, and a glass wall.
They brought in a desk system, and set up the machines (well, we set them up). We got to work. It was hot inside, because the AC had no vent into the room (and we're in Phoenix, Arizona which didn't help). We called the room - initially - the "oven". It was miserable - so we all had fans. We turned off the lights. Just the glow of the monitors to light the room.
The lead - he set up spotify and would run his music (or whatever) and we would listen. I was the old guy (I'm in my 40s) - so the music was new to me, but I liked it. It was a crazy mix of Kesha, some kind of pirate metal, dubstep, Dragonforce, and other weirdness. I loved the mix. We hacked to that, and I gained an appreciation for music I had never experienced before.
Eventually we got our first mascot - someone drew a dickbutt on the glass next to the door, with a flower coming out the rear. Awesome. Described our stack perfectly (I eventually cranked out a fake O'Reilly "book" for the stack) - when it worked, it worked great, but most of the time it was a dickbutt and there was nothing we could do about it (most of those problems were on the server side, which we could only barely touch because our IT guy wasn't the most personable, and held total control over the 10k+ servers in the queue).
At another point, our manager decided to rescue us from our oven, and we got a portable A/C unit - vented into the ceiling. That made things bearable - well, until the thing overflow with condensation (nobody told us to empty it). But - the oven became the "barn" in no time. We called it the barn out of a joke involving bronies or something, I dunno.
And...we got a new mascot. Our lead was culturally jewish, and he told us of a tale called "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins". Apparently this is a real book. Well - to fit into the theme, our new mascot that appeared one day was a hobby horse we named "Hershel". We propped it up on our desk system, added a hat and feather, and continued to work.
We got the system done - well, working to the point that it was real, did what it was supposed to do...
Eventually, the barn was dismantled when we moved to a new office - to an open floorplan (ugh). Too much light. The camaraderie that was developed in our oven barn, while it continued to a certain point - it wasn't quite the same. About a year later, the company was sold, I quit and moved on to other pastures, and the new company eventually got rid of the dev team (because they never wanted it in the first place, nor the software we developed).
But it was a great time while it lasted. Take from it what you can or will...
Before drawing the plans for its Santa Teresa facility, IBM violated all industry standards by carefully studying the work habits of those who would occupy the space. The study was designed by the architect Gerald McCue with the assistance of IBM area managers. Researchers observed the work processes in action in current work spaces and in mock-ups of proposed work spaces. They watched programmers, engineers, quality control workers, and managers go about their normal activities. From their studies, they concluded that a minimum accommodation for the mix of people slated to occupy the new space would be the following:
• 100 square feet of dedicated space per worker
• 30 square feet of work surface per person
• Noise protection in the form of enclosed offices or 6-foot-high partitions (they ended up with about half of all professional personnel in enclosed one- and two-person offices)
The rationale for building the new laboratory to respect these minimums was simple: People in the roles studied needed the space and quiet in order to perform optimally. Cost reduction to provide work space below the minimum would result in a loss of effectiveness that would more than offset the cost savings. Other studies have looked into the same questions and come up with more or less the same answers.
I just read "Deep Work" (due to another HN user's comment somewhere) and it's full of good information. Being able to work free of distractions and interruptions means incredible productivity.
See also http://wiki.c2.com/?LordOfTheFlies
We've weekly cleaning and it seems to be sufficient.
It doesn't cost them anything since the tenant foots the bill. It provides them peace of mind their asset is in good condition.
I feel like wiping the desks down weekly would be enough. Maybe there's a reason behind it. Keeping cold from spreading around? Who knows.
We share such minor duties in the office (and food waste goes to the bio waste bin if suitable or gets packed in small bags). Maybe we're simply not spoiled enough! ;)
Adjustable lighting so I won't need sunglasses. (My current employer got a bit carried away; I have modded my overhead lights with a warm yellow gel film to make it more agreeable.)
Coffee (or the means for making such) within easy reach.
Part of the monologue was the guy promising (from memory, may be paraphrased) "you would get an office! With a door! That you can CLOSE! So you can THINK!"
A decent chair, a high res monitor and quiet go a long way.
edit: one of the comments says it's 1/4th that price in the actual store
A few months later, errands took me near the not-close-to-me IKEA and I popped in for a couple of things. I was a bit shocked (more at the absolute price than the difference) to see the same lamp being sold for $7.
(Something's wonky with the world when this whole thing can be manufactured and then shipped -- including its heavy base -- halfway around the world, and then sold retail, at a profit, for $7.)
If the cost of a trans-Atlantic freight voyage is $150,000, that's basically $150,000 as a fixed cost. If you only have one thing on that boat, it will still cost $150,000. If you have two, it's still $150,000 but now you've halved the transport cost per item. And so on. Now if you put $150,000 worth of merchandise on there, the trip is paid for. Every additional item you stack on is pure profit, essentially. So that (relatively) little lamp just gets balanced on top of a Svorgbøg sofa and ships for free. The only thing they pay is the cost to manufacture, which using the same principles on the assembly line, is almost effectively just the cost of the raw materials. And those raw materials only cost $2 for some plastic and a tiny amount of metal, so there we go. Profit.
Amazon has something similar in their add-on items. These are items that would not be able to be sold or shipped by themselves as it wouldn't be cost effective, but if you purchase them with something else, now it's worth the shipping for them.
Based on the add-on items I've seen I'm not convinced that's true. I needed to buy thermal paste a few months ago and there was a 4g pack for £3 as an add-on item, or a 20g pack for £3.50 with Prime delivery. Other times I've needed something buts it's only available as an add-on item - I don't mind paying for delivery as it's still going to be cheaper and easier than buying in a brick and mortar store.
To be completely honest, I have no idea how their "add on" program actually works. That's just the excuse they give on their site.
Only half kidding - talk to them about the problem and see if you were to go in on a lamp they'd be willing to let the overheads stay off.
God I just checked the price on amazon.
Whooopy dooopy dooo.
My employer retrofitted our coffee machines with credit card terminals (at astronomic expense) to charge the equivalent of $.65 or so for a cup of fancy (that is, anything other than black) coffee.
Problem was, in addition to this charge, we'd be charged another $1 for card processing, which really ruffled everyone's feathers (Debet cards are huge in Norway, typical use charge is less than $.20, most often $.00 - so getting charged $1 seemed like theft!) According to the tech who removed the terminals after a year, they had recorded only one - 1 - sale...
The Lee Filters color shift calculator proved handy when I recently found an LED work light stand  that I thought would make for a nice looking lamp in our living room if I could figure out how to convert the light to a color that was more normal for a home.
> When workers were deliberately disempowered, their work suffered
> and of course, they hated it. “I wanted to hit you,” one
> participant later admitted to an experimenter.
If you're given autonomy over your space, it becomes your territory. Even team
automony is OK if you are emotionally tied to your team enough for them to feel like "your tribe".
But if you are not, you are forever in some other mammal's territory. Imagine a wolf walking through their own woods, smelling the scent of their packmates. They are confident, relaxed, calm. Now put that wolf in anothers' forest. Anxious, hunted, always on the alert for an attack. This is what it feels like to inhabit a space you can't have any influence on.
Those are all distractions that I can do without and that I think I am personally more sensitive to than others may be. Not to mention that in a shared office you are sharing the lighting, temperature, decor, etc. In a private office those are all things that I control and are personalized to my preferences and comfort.
Personally, I prefer an office or room with 2-3 other people at max, but I'll take cubicles over open floor plans every day.
If you feel the need to hide the hours you work then there is something very wrong.
I very often work 6a-2p and I will occasionally get odd looks or the random comment when I am packing up for the day an hour or less after people return from lunch. If you're there when someone arrives, they assume you got there 5 minutes ago, not 3 hours, at least subconsciously.
Same kind of thing with the recent discussions on here about software becoming obsolete and non-functional due to support being dropped (either because the OS won't run it, because r because the software depended on servers which have been shut down). This is another case of users losing control over their environment, and it's important to recognise the issue and the emotions involved, even if you don't relate yourself.
Their furniture is similar, they have three basic pieces - girder (tube), joints (balls) and panel. Out of that you can make any of their furniture. 
A similar system existed for buildings. You could expand and deconstruct your building quickly and easily as need changed. Unfortunately it wasn't a success on the market - too modern for the times, and it was discontinued in the 60's. The furniture is still going strong though.
If I ever get rich, I'd love to buy the rights off them and try again.
No regrets (other than the amount of time the waxing took on the top panel).
I often just skip many "well formatted" blog articles because they are boring and mostly meaningless.
My perfect office is either in my home or a closed, private room where I can concentrate. If I need to collaborate, I'll leave said private room. I also like having a treadmill/standing desk and exactly one of these lightbulbs: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00317155/
We designed several of these workspaces with both personal and shared work areas, including tables for lunch activities (mainly speed chess) and meetings. There were a lot of marker boards and everyone had double the desk space than they had in their cubicles. Both projects were huge successes and still in use to this day.
Here are a few of my observations:
1) Facilities was NOT on board but we had the managerial support to push the project through.
2) The first six months was like being in a fish tank. People constantly stopped by to observe us and ask questions.
3) Similar open-offices started popping up throughout the organization.
4) Some of them failed.
5) Ours did not.
I think that some of reasons that we could be effective in an open-office as a group of cats and dogs (designers and engineers/programmers) were as follows:
1) We only recruited talent that was willing and able to perform in this environment
2) We respected the desire of team members that didn't want to work in this environment, but we kept them close
3) There was nearby private space that could be checked out as needed
4) We got to design the space
5) We were not crammed together and there was implied privacy. For example, nobody every faced another person. We had portable markers boards that could be used as impromptu dividers, and if someone had headphones on, that was a pretty good sign that they were not to be bothered.
6) Nobody dictated how we were to use the space at a group or individual level
7) There was trust
8) We were able to design, develop and iterate faster due to being in close proximity. The intimacy of the workspace worked well with our daily scrums and short design/development cycles. In the previous model, teams were often not colocated and it wasn't uncommon to jump on shuttles and bicycles to get to meetings.
The space was designed by its voluntary occupants and it improved the effectiveness of the team and the end-products as a result.
This is so important. Staring at my least favorite coworker all day was one of the things I hated most about my last job. You wouldn't think it was a big deal, but she was basically reporting each time I went to the restroom or to get water or food, making "tsk" sounds every time I scratched my arm or moved, and sometimes giving a straight on stare of anger for long minutes.
-shivers- Least favorite work environment ever.
Although I must say that indirect sunlight, filtered again through dark green leaves right outside the window at the other end of the room, is pretty pleasant. All the heat is kept outside where it belongs, there's no glare, etc.
Darkness is fine, natural light is fine, pools of lamplight are fine. But big banks of ceiling lights make me want to crawl under my desk and hide.
Open office plans are the worst.
When money is an issue (Which is always the case), you can't help but fall back to one or the other.
Basically you trade off a quick way to work with quality-of-working.
Generalize this from physical space to development environment: It's nice when ui doesn't change by a few pixels each morning.
It's nice when namespaces aren't continuously churning.
API stability makes work fun.
Everything else is inferior.
Doesn't matter. Still the best.
Where I work now: Open office with some natural light (skylights) but no windows, florescent and/or LED lighting. At least the desks are ok.
"How Buildings Learn" (1997)
Nothing else, not even food.
Last month, my contracting colleague and I moved into an office in a converted house. It's small (just four desks) but the ceilings are high, the walls are light, the lighting is nice and bright, and there's a south-facing window with a view all the way across the city to Arthur's Seat. I have a good office chair and a big desk to spread out over, and a cleaner comes in to hoover the floors. And I get to see humans every day, which - I was surprised to find - is a key ingredient in keeping me sane. I'm a lot happier, and a lot more productive, even though I don't have as much control over this office as over my own home.
This is just me, and I understand that people feel they need to push hard for private offices or working from home, because the default nowadays seems to be a big open plan office. However, every time I see somebody extolling their vision of the Best Way To Work, I think it's worth emphasizing that different people work differently, and what drives some people mad might be a necessary component for someone else's perfect office.
Of course, as the article points out, having the choice is the real thing that matters.
I'm going on 3 years working from home and I don't miss an office one bit. I don't feel trapped, anxious or lonely. I have house mates, so I get some daily socialization there. I also get out of the house at least 3 times a week specifically for social activities.
I could see where you might feel those things if you worked all day, every day and never got out of the house. That's one of the challenges when you first start working from home: You now have to manage your own time.
Then again, maybe I'm just an outlier. My idea of an ideal office is a standing desk in a garage with concrete walls and a concrete floor filled with weights, tennis rackets, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, punching bags, etc to play with while I work.
corollary: commercial real estate is a ripoff.
1. I like separating work from home
2. I like being around the people
3. There are snacks!
4. The desk setup is better here than at home. I live in a very small apartment, so a dedicated space isn't feasible.
5. There are printers and paper shredders and copiers and all sorts of other supplies here. I don't want to buy all that stuff for home.
6. The view from this building is heck of a lot cooler than the view from my rear apartment
I could probably think of more. This all adds up to a pretty nice experience.
Also of course is the Timezone benefit. Before I was taking clients directly, I worked with a remote team, with staff from basically every continent except Antarctica.
It wasn't unusual for me to be working such odd (by local standards) hours in Melbourne/Thailand that I had 90% crossover with Western Europe or North America.