So Y.T.'s mom has clacked up the stairs in her black pumps and gone into her
office, actually a large room with computer workstations placed across it in a
grid. Used to be divided up by partitions, but the EBGOC boys didn't like it,
said what would happen if there had to be an evacuation? All those partitions
would impede the free flow of unhinged panic. So no more partitions. Just
workstations and chairs. Not even any desktops. Desktops encourage the use of
paper, which is archaic and reflects inadequate team spirit. What is so special
about your work that you have to write it down on a piece of paper that only you
get to see? That you have to lock it away inside a desk? When you're working
for the Feds, everything you do is the property of the United States of America.
You do your work on the computer. The computer keeps a copy of everything, so
that if you get sick or something, it's all there where your co-workers and
supervisors can get access to it. If you want to write little notes or make
phone doodles, you're perfectly free to do that at home, in your spare time.
And there's the question of interchangeability. Fed workers, like military
people, are intended to be interchangeable parts. What happens if your
workstation should break down? You're going to sit there and twiddle your
thumbs until it gets fixed? No siree, you're going to move to a spare
workstation and get to work on that. And you don't have that flexibility if
you've got half a ton of personal stuff cached inside of a desk, strewn around a
So there is no paper in a Fed office. All the workstations are the same. You
come in in the morning, pick one at random, sit down, and get to work. You
could try to favor a particular station, try to sit there every day, but it
would be noticed. Generally you pick the unoccupied workstation that's closest
to the door. That way, whoever came in earliest sits closest, whoever came in
latest is way in the back, for the rest of the day it's obvious at a glance
who's on the ball in this office and who is -- as they whisper to each other in
the bathrooms -- having problems.
(1993, and as prescient as always.)
I've also seen some interesting behaviors as certain people will become very territorial over their preferred workstation, and generally the quality of workstations in general is lower as it becomes easier to move to a new workstation than try to fix the issue, or file a "ticket".
Cables & docking station parts go missing, keyboards get breadcrumbs & soda, chairs disappear (?!), etc. Once accountability for personal space goes away it seems a certain level of apathy kicks in
But; I can imagine this has whispers and perhaps the discomfort many experienced in middle and high school of not being the one left out or left hanging at the lunch table. The stepchild of the Corp.
Is life so certain and determined that we yet need some form of uncertainty in our lives and in particular at work?
We hear about and experience dark patterns in the digital realm. These things, hot dealing and open offices are an affront to humanity and are whispering below our conscious “You’re not really needed, as your desk and personal space are coyly violated, so is your presumed place in this company. You’re welcome here so long as we allow you to be welcome. We’re the boss of you.”
Thank you for sharing the non-pay-wall version.
Apparently some employees at the last location were getting really cozy and kept really messy workspaces. Hot-desking was the solution.
This is in the FAQ at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html and there's more explanation here: