07 March 2017

Back to the Office

I've been in my new/old job for a couple of weeks now, and getting used to again having a morning routine that includes getting out of the house in time to catch a bus. I've needed to make a few adjustments, and I admit that I'm trying to keep the routine a little tighter so I don't have to get up quite as early as I used to when I did this before.

Commuting via public transit is still a mixed bag. Some mornings everything goes smoothly; I get a seat, I read the paper, stations whisk by until I look up and realize it's time for me to get off the train. Other days the train is packed way beyond what is comfortable or safe, and the train doesn't thin out until Back Bay. I sympathize with my fellow commuters, because we're all in it together. We're all on that train because we have to get somewhere and don't have any better option for how to accomplish that.

At the moment, though, I'm only going to the office three days a week. There are space issues, which is part of the reason the department is moving to newly renovated office space some time in April. After my coworkers and I were laid off five years ago the department no longer needed all that space, so it was divided and another organization took over the other part. But as time went by the headcount started to increase again, and eventually they had to start doubling up in offices.

I am currently sharing an office, meaning my desk is a rectangular folding table wedged into a corner. It's not terrible, but I feel to some extent like I'm intruding on the original occupant's space, so I work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This also helps create a transition period for the dog, who was used to me being here every day for the previous eight months. We were concerned about how she would react to this change; we have a dog walker coming on the other days, and Charlie seems to be okay with things. It certainly helps that she's getting treats stuffed into a Kong toy when we leave, and another one when the dog walker leaves.

One disappointment: when we move to the new office, we're going to be in cubicles. They are inescapable, I guess. Given what the renovations must be costing, the institution needs to maximize the number of people who can use the space, so we will be sharing the floor with two or three other departments and the floor will be filled with cubes. We have been told that they will be equipped with adjustable-height desk surfaces to accommodate those who choose to work while standing. I'm interested in trying this, even if only for part of the workday.

But cubicles are still better than the completely open office layout that many companies have adopted (allegedly because it "fosters collaboration"). I shudder a little every time I see one of these photos, and I'm thankful I don't have to work in an environment like that. I don't know how anyone could get anything done with so much going on around them; work requires focus.

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