Recurrency: Pride of Place

Florentina's desk 1

The response may always be one of balance.

Recent musings extend from where we left off in the prior installment. Contemplating the essence of workspaces is a recurrent theme apparently, as I recently reviewed writings from years past. Giving rise to the question: What makes an appropriate work place?

This essay is prompted by an off-hand, yet pointed, comment by an institutional operations and maintenance manager in charge of a university housekeeping staff. He expressed that while he was concerned that his people should have decent work accommodations, he stipulated that everyone working within an institution is there for only a given period of time—a universal life truth on a more cosmic level.

He explained further that in his view, as I believe I understood it, no one should really needs a personally specific workspace, but access to a workspace suitable to support one’s role, daily tasks, and self-respect. Each space needs to support the work and advance the self-respect of generations of persons who will do the selfsame or similar, evolved tasks.

In contrast, the Observer column in The Chronicle Review, 13 February 2015, takes the idea of workspace out of the space-time continuum and literally launches it into the cloud per Jeffrey R. Wilson’s exposition of how he writes on his smart phone while steering his infant son’s stroller for long walks.

Possibilities of non-spatial approaches aside, I wonder whether it is possible to consider sharing building spaces in more creative ways, at least by focal task? Previously, I noted how a dean had posited the idea of faculty sharing an office. Others elsewhere at other times have suggested the idea of hoteling stations for adjunct faculty – a basic provision of shared supporting furnishings and services to allow part-time faculty to address the needs and expectations of their students. Furniture manufacturers certainly advance this idea for commercial settings, but cannily add the proviso that a full range of space types be mad available to workers to ensure productivity – from quiet, solo spaces for intensive creative concentration to more open and populous settings for group collaborations.

The idea of spatial fungibility intrigues, but there are also impulses of seemingly fundamental human nature to reckon. Notably on the path toward self-actualization, there is a human propensity for claiming space by personalizing it and thereby identifying oneself and one’s character pridefully with work tasks and work place.

Can one really lay claim to a place by enhancing it in a personal way when one is there only briefly in turn with others?

Is there an organizational approach or design solution that will enable individual expression and co-occupancy?

Questioning and considering,

Charles

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