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Posts Tagged ‘Office Space’

When I was offered a job after going on the market again this year, I knew that this would likely be my only chance to negotiate for pretty much anything. Because the school also has more financial resources than the institution I’m leaving, I wasn’t sure exactly what would be appropriate to ask for (and I definitely wanted to avoid any Nazareth-like situations) but I knew that a request for new office furniture would be necessary.

At my current institution, the entire department had moved and received new furniture a few years before I began, so I inherited furniture that was relatively new. During my campus visit to my new department, though, it was pretty clear that everybody had office furniture from near the time they started. This meant that there was a large difference between the offices of those who had been recently hired and those who have worked there for a decade or more. Since my new institution has more financial stability I also thought that it would be worth asking for an ergonomic desk chair rather than something like I’ve been sitting in for the past five years (and on which I’ve worn through the right armrest twice).

I ended up with a lump sum that I could use to purchase office furniture. Having no idea how much office furniture actually costs, I didn’t think too much about this amount until I recently started planning my office space. Thinking about how I use my current office, I decided that I need a desk for myself as well as something else that I could set things on when I came back from class. Because I’m losing two closets, I also wanted something that would provide some covered storage for the old notebooks and binders that I currently keep out of sight. Finally, inspired by Eric Grollman’s efforts to create a more welcoming environment I wanted to find a table for meeting with students (maybe this post will inspire an update – I’m eager to see how this setup worked during his first year).

Looking at various vendors for these things online and adding up the prices led to the realization that office furniture is expensive! College discounts with certain suppliers mean that I should be able to get everything I want, but only after spending thousands of dollars on furniture that is in no way “fancy” (look at Grollman’s desk for comparison – it will be all flat surfaces with no handles for me). Although the cost is high, this furniture is likely to last at least a decade, if not longer*. It is interesting, then, that the amount I was given for purchasing office furniture was less than the amount I was given for purchasing technology like a computer and monitor that is unlikely to be in use even five years in the future (based on the title of this post, I believe that this is what they call “burying the lede”).

I feel like the fact that a school is willing to spend more money on short-term technology than office furniture that will be in use for much longer says something about priorities these days, either of institutions or their faculty. Because I’m still recovering from a long year, however, I’m not sure what that something is. Maybe it is related to students who choose schools based on sports teams and climbing walls. Or maybe it just demonstrates that we spend too much money on computers. Have you seen how much Apple charges for RAM?

*At home I use a Steelcase desk that I bought used for $20 12 years ago. Given the color it was probably at least 15-20 years old when I bought it.

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Until a few weeks ago I had never had an office of my own.  Sure, I had shared some office space with a number of graduate students ranging from two to twenty, but I never had a desk, computer, or chair dedicated solely to my own use.

It is nice.

At my old university, office space was at a premium, especially for graduate students.  At my undergraduate institution it was even worse, with faculty members in a number of departments sharing office space.  I haven’t actually seen the offices of faculty members in any other departments at my new place of employment, but I’ve been told that ours are among the nicest.  My current office is about 50% larger than that of my undergraduate mentor, who had his own office but no window, and maybe 30% larger than that of my dissertation chair.

One function of having so much space is that what appeared to be a sizable academic book collection last year in my apartment leaves leagues of empty space on my office shelves.  I am hoping that another function of having my own office will be greatly increased productivity.  I have already found myself working in my office during the afternoon and wishing I could take a nap.  At home, I would have.  In my office… so far, so good.

Of course, should I ever feel overwhelmed by the need for a quick nap, I do have a door.  It sure beats this:

Image from Scanners.  The link also includes other iconic office settings.

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office-space-poster-small

Just like the job market, work sucks.  Celebrate both of these facts by watching Office Space today on the tenth anniversary of its release.  Afterward, check out Mike Judge’s cinematic follow-up Idiocracy, which has a brilliant concept but is lacking in its execution.

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