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How Much Do You Value Your Office Space? 165

Posted by Cliff
from the elbow-room-vs-cold-hard-cash dept.
reason asks: "I've heard that office space costs around $10,000 per employee, and sometimes much more. I have a great office: it's a nice size and I have a lovely view out the window. It's a good working environment, and I know I'm lucky. Still, if it came down to dollar terms, I'd be willing to share my office with a colleague or even move into a cubicle in exchange for a mere $5,000/year pay rise. Am I undervaluing what I have? If you have an office to yourself, how much would they have to pay you to make you willingly give it up? If you don't have an office, how much of a pay cut would you be prepared to take to get one?"
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How Much Do You Value Your Office Space?

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  • Google and Me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by komodo9 (577710) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:46PM (#14683405) Homepage
    Look at Google. They have very few offices, but instead many small rooms with 4-6 people in each. They say it enhances collaboration through discussion and brainstorming. If you're ever unsure about something, you can turn around and ask someone very quickly.

    To me personally, office space doesn't mean much. I almost prefer to work with others around rather than being isolated in an office by myself.
    --
    United Bimmer - BMW Enthusiast Community [unitedbimmer.com]
    • Re:Google and Me (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Azarael (896715)
      This is how my office works as well, and being able to have a quick discussion without leaving your desk is pretty handy. It is a pain though when you need to get rolling on something and have to fight through distractions.
      • I agree. There is no doubt that any employer who's given you an office is expecting benefit from this....likely in terms of productivity. Building pace has cost and value no matter what it is used for.

        I used to cost and estimate in the printing industry and any estimate considered the value of space used. If a machine cost $50,000 but saved 500 square feet of space that may very well be cheaper in the long term than a $100,000 machine that saved none. I can't imagine any employer not considering this wh
        • If a machine cost $50,000 but saved 500 square feet of space that may very well be cheaper in the long term than a $100,000 machine that saved none.

          Heck, that $50,000 machine is even cheaper than the $100,000 machine in the near term too!
        • I used to cost and estimate in the printing industry and any estimate considered the value of space used. If a machine cost $50,000 but saved 500 square feet of space that may very well be cheaper in the long term than a $100,000 machine that saved none.

          Maybe I'm missing something.

          $50,000 may be cheaper than $100,000?

          Especially given that you state the $50,000 machine saves space on top of already being cheaper.

        • Re:Google and Me (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Flounder (42112)
          If a machine cost $50,000 but saved 500 square feet of space that may very well be cheaper in the long term than a $100,000 machine that saved none.

          I'm American. I'll always go with the bigger and more expensive machine. Must mean it's better.

    • Re:Google and Me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:47PM (#14683888) Homepage Journal
      Look at Google. They have very few offices, but instead many small rooms with 4-6 people in each.

      I will point out, however, that they are rooms. I imagine that background noise is minimal, and people are allowed to focus on their tasks. In comparison, I've worked in environments with tons of open cubicles. The background noise really interferes with trying to focus on what you're doing. You don't even notice it at first, but the moment you find a quiet space you suddenly notice the difference.

      So in short, you need a conductive workspace, of which offices are only one type. :-)
      • And don't forget to factor in weird cubicle acoustics, you know, where you can hear someone's in-cube conversation 6 or 8 cubes away as if they're inside your head.
      • Very important. It's not about being alone or not, it's about what you're exposed to. A room with a few people working on the same project as you can be a fantastic working environment. Sitting wth lots of others who are doing totally dfferent things can be hell. A lone offie is usually in-between: you have a guarantee against the really gross stuff, which is always nice, but it's not ideal since you also miss out on the good sides of close collaboation.

      • You have no idea how much you are right. At the facility where I used to work, I started out with an office of my own. I got very used to having peace and quiet so that I could get work done while I was actually in my office. Well, management decided that since I wasn't supervisor level, that it was unfair to the rest of the staff if the IS guy had an office and they didn't. So, I got moved to a cubicle -- on the collections floor. I was surrounded by people constantly talking on the phone, collecting
      • In a situation like this, what are people's experiences with office wide white noise generators to mask the sound? Does it help? Does it just make everyone talk louder and go deaf sooner?
    • Re:Google and Me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pintomp3 (882811) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:52PM (#14683916)
      i think this is the most productive setup, unless you're rooming with someone you can't stand.
    • Re:Google and Me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tadrith (557354) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:56PM (#14683945) Homepage
      The only problem with that is the problem I've had -- stupid people suddenly turn you into a walking question and answer machine.

      Collaboration only works when everyone is willing to work. Otherwise you get people who are lazy, stupid, and would much rather ask you instead of figuring it out for themselves.

    • Re:Google and Me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by luvirini (753157)
      The most efficient arrangement I have found was a 2/room thing in couple of places I worked, we had a fairly large office partially divided by a screen. Worked very well when you had someone closeby to be a soundingboard and similar and yet there was no background noise or such when the door was closed. I think the google model has same benefits, though personally I would thing 6 people would likely be too much.
    • Re:Google and Me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Friday February 10, 2006 @12:58AM (#14685081) Homepage
      I'm admittedly not a particularly social person, and I would have thought that having an office to myself would be ideal. And I'd freak out and run screaming from the room if forced to share space with other people. But that hasn't been the case.

      At the place I worked for a dozen years ago, my boss and his boss decreed that it was time to "tear down the wall" between Programming and Tech Support, which meant not only taking down the almost-to-the-ceiling partion between the two groups, but turning the entire room into an open office area, with no vertical barrier taller than a seated person. And it worked great. So much so that, at my next job, when they started talking about reconfiguring the cubicles for the IT dept, without even being asked I went home and made up a similar design to serve as a first draft. That also worked out well. (Of course, it helped that in both instances, I managed to get myself a desk with a view outside... even if it was just a parking lot.)

      The job I had after that paid better, and I got my own office with four walls, a ceiling, and a real wooden door. Heaven, right? Nope. Granted, there were factors other than the seating arrangements, but I hated it.

      Now I'm in a job where I share an office (four walls and a door... that's always open) with a co-worker.* And it's actually kinda nice. One of us can intercept interruptions when the other is trying to get something done, getting help with something is as simple as stating a question aloud, and I don't need to worry about keeping abreast of what my coworker is doing because I'm right there when he does it. As long as I continue to get "alone time" - at home and on breaks - I'm fine. I gave up several thousand dollars a year and some benefits to take this job instead of the office-with-a-door job. It was worth it. Even without an outside window.

      *Actually, the co-worker position is empty, and we're interviewing to fill it. Anyone with Mac experience interested in working for an art-and-design college in Grand Rapids MI is invited to contact me at "verbeet AT ferris DOT edu"

    • I've worked in multiple formats: completely open air (no cubes, no walls, you can see what everyone is doing), your standard cubicle, and a regular office to myself (what I'm in now). I can say that I definately prefer having my own office.

      That said, I admit that I probably WOULD be more productive in a cubicle environment, or in something that you've described. I probably goof off more than I should, and I suspect that's the same with many other folks. I imagine it's hard to get away with reading the lates
    • Re:Google and Me (Score:5, Informative)

      by sysadmn (29788) <sysadmn@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Friday February 10, 2006 @09:09AM (#14686463) Homepage
      Everyone talks about the increase in communications from shared space, but no one seems to factor in the productivity hit that comes from having to listen to other people's meetings on speakerphone, or time spent in a corner of the hallway making personal calls. I don't spend a lot of time on personal business, but there's times I need to call a doctor to get a prescription written or talk to a child's teacher. My coworkers don't need to hear that any more than I need to hear them discussing their divorce with their attorney. If you're designing a cube hell, for heaven's sake, add a few phone booths!
    • Re:Google and Me (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thing 1 (178996)
      I think the submitter's focus is slightly naive. My rate of pay should be orthogonal to my seating arrangement. Whereas, in fact, the two tend to be linked positively; when pay (especially along with title) goes up, so does the chance of having a door.

      So asking "how much pay would you give up to have an office" isn't really paying attention to corporate culture; the submitter appears to be assuming that the two can be linked negatively (i.e., you can exchange pay for better office arrangement, which doe

    • I'd love to hear an anthropologist or psychologist's view on this. Groups of up to 4 or so people sharing a space sounds great, something primaeval about small groups of people sharing the same rhythyms, having quiet times, having social times, informally worked out. Collaboration indeed prospers in groups.But more than 4 or so is hell in my experience.

      I work in an open plan space with up to 20 people and senior bosses offices round the outside; constant distractions, noise, people on different work patter
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:47PM (#14683412) Journal
    Firstly, unless you worked for Webvan, or some other profligate doc com company, office space does not cost $10k per employee. Not even in the SF Bay area.

    Secondly, you have to consider that the cost of your space is probably only half or less of the total: conference rooms, bathrooms, corridors, etc.: all must be considered, and while the corridors may have to larger if each employee has more space, the bathrooms and conference rooms and other shared areas don't.

    So, the delta cost to a company for you to have a cube vs. an office: probably less than $2k per year. For $2k off my gross wages, I would opt for an individual office.
    • office space does not cost $10k per employee. Not even in the SF Bay area.

      I suspect that number confuses several "facts"...

      Most relevantly, maintaining a physical presence costs a company between $5 and $10 an hour. As a full-timer, that comes out to at least $10k per year.

      However, the vast majority of that comes from things like HVAC, lighting, providing a legal and reasonably modern PC, and cleaning and maintenance staff. If almost everyone telecommuted, a company could drastically reduce that av
      • Most relevantly, maintaining a physical presence costs a company between $5 and $10 an hour. As a full-timer, that comes out to at least $10k per year.

        Some quick calculations based on the office where I presently work and the last place I worked, including things like HVAC, insurance and cleaning, show a figure of $5k/year per employee to be quite generous.

        I did not include the cost of buying or leasing furniture, PCs, etc.

        This report has details of rental rates in San Jose [grubb-ellis.com]: $23 - $30 per square fo

        • Buy one in Denham, Western Australia [realestate.com.au] for AUD$120,000 (USD$88,700 today [xe.com]) each; buy all ten and sell the rest for a 10% markup to get an office for free. Unbeatable fishing, Francois Peron National Park just around the corner, Shell Beach, Hamelin Pool, the old Telegraph Station (with genuine shellite loos and stromatolites), Kalbarri and Carnarvon just** up the road, dolphins, turtles, dugongs, the lot* [monkeymiaw...hts.com.au].

          Notes:
          • * Also tiger sharks and sea-snakes; welcome to Australia. (-:
          • ** 383km and 334km respectively [exploroz.com].
          • I think you might have misread that, it's actually AU$1,200,000. Unless it was wrong before and they've fixed it :)

            I was just in Denham/Monkey Mia in December and it was excellent. If I could get a decent job there, I'd be more than happy to live there. It's also "only" 850KM from Perth! A leisurely 10 hour drive, on straight, flat, roads.
      • Given the obvious cost savings, why do employers hate telecommuniting so much? Some employers seem to say that telecommuting is ok but not telecommuting 100% of the time which defeats most of the cost savings since having someone come in 3 days and work from home 2 days is probobly MORE expensive than having them come in to work for 5 days a week. On the other hand, having someone work from home 5 days a week is significantly cheaper than having them work in the office 5 days a week (since they dont even ne
        • by wtansill (576643) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @10:09PM (#14684019)
          Given the obvious cost savings, why do employers hate telecommuniting so much?
          There are a number of reasons, some good, some bad:

          • Some managers can't get their heads around the notion that professionals are paid to "produce", not "populate". If they can't see you, you must not be working.
          • Offices are already set up to provide meeting rooms and such for anything from a productive brainstorming session to a mundane "status" meeting. Trying to cope with conference calls with or without a video conference feed just adds more expense and delay to the equation.
          • Politically, it's bad if you're not in the office for extended periods of time. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that. There have been studies (which of course I can't find at present) that demonstrate that a lack of "face time" lowers an employee's odds of getting recognition for achievements and/or promotions for same.

          Something else to consider -- if you work from home, you are always at the office, and can be called upon at any hour to log in to the corporate network (on call -- yes, I know...). We had a problem with this 100 or so years ago with people doing "piecework" from their homes. There are laws against this for a reason. Lets not be quite so eager to give up our personal space...
    • I left my first f/t software job, where seniority had given me the best office after VPs, for a 10% pay increase and cutting back to 50 hours a week. We'd had our first child; and money and time at home were more important than office space. That was about 21 years ago.

      I'd lop off maybe $2K a year to get a windowed office with a decent view now, but that's definitely less than 10% of what I make today! And I wouldn't give more than that to get a primo office.
    • cost of your space is probably only half or less of the total: conference rooms, bathrooms, corridors,

      My office used to be a conference room.

      We never had much in the way of conferences so I moved into it.

    • Umm, my office is 250 square feet and our rent is approximately $45.00 per square foot for a prime Midtown Manhattan location. That works out to $11,000 a year in rent just for my office. There are also utility reimbursements, garbage collection fees, insurance for the property, etc.

      I don't know what sort of office rent statistics you are looking at, but even downtown SF is going to be $35.00 PSF for Class A office space (unless you have a huge company and get some sort of bulk discount).

  • Maybe $10? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:48PM (#14683417)
    I probably bought it for $15, but that was a few years ago, and it's not the newer edition "with flair" which means it's probably worth less. However, it's still a very funny movie and worth owning, whatever the cost.
  • What are you offering?
  • Lots! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:52PM (#14683456)
    In my previous job my desk was against the wall in a warehouse. People walking up behind me all the time. Servers spread-out across 3 desks, Cat5 cables hanging down from the ceiling.

    No heat in Winter (Hey this is Ontario it does get cold!)
    No air in Summer (Hey this is Ontario it does get hot!)

    The only way I could impove my situation; wait for somebody to get canned & steal their desk. By the time somebody noticed I had been there for a few months and 'entrenched'. =)
    • In my previous job my desk was against the wall in a warehouse.

      I work in a cave, you insensitive clod! Actually an abandoned limestone mine. Our office shares about 5000 sq. ft. with a small soap company in a 2000000 sq. ft. underground warehouse complex. Diesel semis drive through all the time, so the particulates in the air are pretty bad. The temperature is relatively constant, since we're about 100' below ground level, but humidity gets bad in the summer with the vent air pulled in (and condenses

  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:56PM (#14683501) Journal
    Considering the distractions that I get (network operations center, so phones, various alarms, and a television tuned to one of several news stations), I'd love to get some time alone, even in a small place. I don't have a lot of paper around, so I don't need space. I just need quiet.
  • by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:57PM (#14683512)
    But shutting the door and thus muting the conversation about what is going on in the latest edition of American Idol is pretty damn valuable to me.

    Being able to control the lighting is also very valuable.

    Privacy too. I don't like people to hearing what I am saying unless I actually want them to overhear it regardless of what I am talking about.

    Ohhh - closed door meetings - those have lots of value.

    I think I'd need at least a 50% raise.
    • by jobugeek (466084) on Friday February 10, 2006 @12:09AM (#14684802) Homepage
      Amen to all of the things you stated. Just getting up and staring out the window for about 2-3 minutes helps me considerably. I can clear my head and then get back to work. Unfortunately, I can't open the windows(stupid office buildings). I am easily distracted by stuff that passes through my peripheral vision, so in the few jobs I've had in a cube, I was constantly looking up. I'm just not able to cope with it.
  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:58PM (#14683523)
    Sadly, there is no one room I spend more time in than my office. I spend about 35% of my LIFE in that room.

    Since I am alone in it, I have spent a couple thousand dollars in additional furnishing in it ( Lamps, artwork, stereo, TV, various knick-knacks ). I figure if I spend the time, I should make the investment to make it a comfortable room I want to be in.

    I'd be hard pressed to give it up for more salary. Would I sell it for a cube? Sure -- but then I'd look for a new job.
  • value of work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by usrusr (654450) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @08:58PM (#14683525) Homepage Journal
    > Still, if it came down to dollar terms, I'd be willing
    > to share my office with a colleague or even move into a
    > cubicle in exchange for a mere $5,000/year pay rise

    But will your efficiency be the same in a cubicle? If you put that into the calculation as well your pay rise could easily be much smaller, probably even negative for some tasks.

    Which brings us to the most important point: some kinds of work benefit more from a nice seperate office, some less, some even benefit from a shared room.

    And don't underestimate the incentive factor, a wage rise might be more attractive for the individual employee than getting a separate office, but his coworkers won't take much notice of that. Promoting someone to a better office on the other hand can provide a much greater "i can accomplish that too" motivation boost for his coworkers.
  • I'd work from home just to get work done. People trying to bypass the system to get me to work on their problem first, the politics and gossip in the office.

    They already pay for my broadband and give me a softphone and VPN. Weeks go by with me wondering why I even come in since there's nothing I can't do remotely.

    I won't even want any salary compensation. I'd be happy to save the travel expenses.

    -m
  • by AuMatar (183847)
    My appartment in downtown Seattle is 1K/month. I could easily have 3 offices instead. Maybe if you were building the offices, and spreading the cost over a very small period (1-5 years)its that high.

    On the other hand, I now have 3 offices for rent in an appartment building in downtown Seattle. All for a low, low price of 9K/year. Save 1K!
  • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:04PM (#14683570)
    In the past 8 years at my employer, I've been in 6 office spaces, some shared, some semi-private, and one wiht a closing door. I don't consider office space as part of my salary, but I do consider the choice of office space (within relative reason) to be worth "something", if not money. Same with office furnature, network jacks, and good power supply.

    First was a small kitchen area, shared with 3 other people at different points of the day, with some overlap occasionally of all 4 of us plus an extra person or two. We managed, and as a group we all got along together well - we're all still together, same department, only losses have been due to a death and a retirement. Next had a private office, 3 network jacks, 2 different circuits, it was nice. Then moved to a slightly smaller office, turning down a window office because it was on the south side of the building, not shaded, and my desk was just a tad too big for it. Moved to a shared lab area with 1 other person for a while for renovations, then back. Just moved to a shared area with really high cubicle walls, but now I have a north side window to one side of me and a fishtank to the other.

    So I guess it really depends on what you consider to be a good office, or a better one than you have now.

  • by CokeJunky (51666) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:11PM (#14683633)
    I have found that nice office space is good, but if the company is more concerned about appearances than their employees, that is not so good.

    In the long distance past, I found out that the office space for a company I was working at cost 40$ (Canadian) per square foot per month. Now that doesn't include anything other than the rental itself... not power, plumbing, etc. So, I did the math... I was using up an area of 8ft by 6 foot, so 48 square feet. Round it off if you include use of common areas, so make that 50 ft^2. At that price, they were paying 2000 $/month for the space I occupied. Funny thing is that happened to be what I was earning at the time. So when they offered me a 100 square foot office, (raises had occured -- I was up to 3k/month by then) I started looking for a new job. I for one think that an employee should be worth at least as much per month as the floor under their feet. I felt the company was more concerned about appearances and having a fancy address than it was concerned about having employees who could afford clothes to match the office.

    For reference, 40$/sq foot/month is for AAA office space... Just about any other building in the city would go for 12-20/month.

    Don't get me wrong, I like having a nice office as much as anyone, but not when the company is paying a premium for the address and can't afford to pay a better wage. Maybe it's just ego, but I would like to think that good employees should be worth more to a company than an expensive address. The expensive address may add prestige to the company and bring business, but happy employees who are well paid tend to work harder, produce better quality work, and are less likely to leave the company for greener fields in the middle of a project.
    • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:59PM (#14683967)
      Let me get this straight. They gave you a raise, and offered a bigger office, so you... quit?
      • Yup, pretty much.

        I tried several times to come up with a witty comeback, but every one of them became a whining rant. Lets just say I felt like I was cheaper than the floor, and walked on just as much.
    • Re:Per Square Foot (Score:5, Informative)

      by cameldrv (53081) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @10:45PM (#14684260)
      Hate to break it to you, but office rents are almost always quoted in dollars per square foot per year, not per month. $40, even in Canadian dollars would be an astronomical price for space. They were probably spending about 8% of your salary on space, not 100%.
      • Not necessarily. An article for my large financial institution in a mid-sized city in Canada quoted the per square foot price of space, after taxes and whatnot, at $23 per. That's in a city with quite decent rents, and the gross looks something like $12-15 per.

        Looking at a big city, like Toronto, and downtown, the per square foot charge after taxes and whatnot could easily surpass $40 per square foot. Still, on 100sqft office that's only $4000 per year.

        For instance, from officesearchtoronto.com, I obtain
    • The expensive address may add prestige to the company and bring business, but happy employees who are well paid tend to work harder, produce better quality work, and are less likely to leave the company for greener fields in the middle of a project.

      So is that what you did? How is your office now?
  • by mikael (484) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:12PM (#14683637)
    If you have an office to yourself, how much would they have to pay you to make you willingly give it up? If you don't have an office, how much of a pay cut would you be prepared to take to get one?"


    If I had my own office, I wouldn't give it up for anything. Being able to work somewhere with the benefit of natural daylight and without distraction is something I would not give up. Having the ability to open the window and get natural air is an added bonus.

    My reasoning is this: By being able to work without distraction I can focus on producing quality work in a short amount of time, and increase my value to the employer, which would increase my
    chances of getting better pay rises. Having natural air also helps achieve this goal (as opposed to having a desk right next to an industrial laser printer which as in constant use).

    There was also a previous discussion where Microsoft observed that every 5 minute distraction caused their developers spend 25 minutes in order to get the flow going again).
  • Offices (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jozer99 (693146) on Thursday February 09, 2006 @09:16PM (#14683668)
    Don't under estimate office space. I interned at the same company my mother works at last summer. For the first two weeks I got a corner office (nicer than my mom's office, THAT pissed her off), and it was great. Then they finally processed me and I moved into a little teeny cubicle. I was SOOO much more producive in the office, becuase I didn't have the destraction of listening in on the various conversations of people in my cubical block, and people didn't tend to just walk right into my office unless they had a reason (good to know I'm feared ;) but they would barge right into the cubical and give me other stuff to do.
  • by hakan2000 (945918)
    I actually think offices cost less in the long term. I was in an office for half of my career, and in a cube for the other half. My office was at least 25% smaller than my cube, but since it is an office, it doesn't really feel small, it actually feels more comfortable. So with careful planning, I think you can pack more offices (without windows of course) than cubes given the same square footage. Also, I'm pretty sure that a company will save a lot of employee-work-hours ( = dollars! ) just due to the fact
  • I own a small business that calls downtown San Jose its home. We lease office space that is about 1300 square feet and split it with another small company. Rent is $1.26 a square foot (but the landlord is now offering the office space above us for $1.15...bastard!) :(

    We have 4 people in the office currently, plus a nice-sized workbench space to build servers and a conference table area. We could easily fit 5 people in the same space.

    Rent, plus electricity, water cooler, phone, and 6Mbit DSL connection, costs around $1300 a month. $1300 divided by 5 people is $260/month per person. That, on a yearly basis, is $3120 per employee.

    Yes, I suppose we could all work from home and save the money, but productivity would be dramatically decreased. For one thing, we do a lot of datacenter work, and we need quick and easy access to the datacenter during business hours (and space to build servers!) Plus, I like the "office environment" where we can easily chat with each other. A lot of ideas come out just from us talking. Plus, there is a comfy couch where anyone in the company can crash out or just sit and think, and some snacky things to chew on while pondering problems. These are fun amenities that I couldn't justify the cost for as easily if they were at my house. ;)

    Also worth mentioning is the comfort our customers derive from us having an office. It's a lot easier to sell customers on our dedicated servers and colocation services if they know they can come knock on the door whenever they have a problem. For whatever reason, the "everyone works at home" thing is not considered a professional way to run a small business, and having an office is seen as a must-have for customers to take us seriously.
    • Plus, there is a comfy couch where anyone in the company can crash out or just sit and think, and some snacky things to chew on while pondering problems. These are fun amenities that I couldn't justify the cost for as easily if they were at my house. ;)

      You can't justify a couch and some munchies for your house? Gee, and here I thought I was cheap!

  • If you have an office to yourself, how much would they have to pay you to make you willingly give it up?

    If you have an office to yourself, it's either because you're the CEO or becasue you're the last (wo)man standing!

    On a more serious note, in the UK, office space tends not to be partitioned into cubicles, or even personal offices, but tends to be open plan.

    If you take a modern office, like 30 St.Mary Axe [30stmaryaxe.com], the London HQ of Swiss Re insurance - a beautiful building btw - office space is offered in t
  • some links (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BillAtHRST (848238)
    Here's a link to one of the seminal studies: http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/171/ibmsj17 01C.pdf [ibm.com] You can also check out "Peopleware" by DeMarco and Lister. Offices are good -- if you want/need interaction, you can always invite people in, but it's hard to invite people out of a shared space. The worst "office" environments I've ever been in:
    - at one engagement (I was on-staff at a consulting co. for a big client), I actually shared a DESK (not an office), with another programmer. Seriously --
  • Is that really $10k per year?

    I would gladly trade my cubicle for a small, ugly room like the one in Brazil (remember the scene where Sam is fighting for his half of the desk shared between him and his neighbor? that part is ridiculous but the room itself looked to be an adequate size, if it just had a whole desk to itself.) Building offices is a one-time cost, not an ongoing one. If you work for a company that's been around a few years, it makes you want to ask, why don't they already have offices that w
  • $20k/year for me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Friday February 10, 2006 @01:03AM (#14685110) Homepage Journal
    I've worked in a private office, a not so private office, shared an office, and worked in an open floor plan.

    The best option i've seen is where we had some communal computers with a standard setup that anyone (and groups) could sit down and work at, plus offices for when we needed to work privately. That was fantastic for productivity (having the offices didn't isolate us), yet also was pleasant because we could retreat to the offices to take phone calls, or to work solo when that was more effective. That's the model every development company ought to have in my opinion.

    That's hard to come by though. When deciding between having to work surrounded by people with no privacy, vs having an office with privacy, vs having an office with a view, I value it at $10k/year for each step. I'm currently working in the open floor plan with no view, but I took the job because they offered me $20k more than I was making before plus bonus opportunities that may be worth even more. I've also taken a $10k paycut to go from an internal office to an office with a beautiful view (similar work). Totally worth it. That daily pleasantness did so much for my stress level, helping to improve my health, it was great. I'm actually slightly regretting taking the 20k step up right now given the stress of the environment I'm in now, but hopefully the extra money will let me have kids, and that's important enough for me to make the trade off, at least for a while.

    Anyway, all in all I'd strongly urge you to consider just how much value your personal space has for you. Consider: how much extra would you pay in rent not to have to deal with a roommate?
    • I'm actually slightly regretting taking the 20k step up right now given the stress of the environment I'm in now, but hopefully the extra money will let me have kids

      You are tolerating stress for now... in order to have kids????

      Boy, are you in for a nasty surprise.

      • :-)

        I understand the stress involved with kids, but that's a different kind of stress. Much more rewarding than work-stress.
        • You bet it's rewarding and totally worth it... but as the proud father of a two-year-old toddler, your sentence made me both smile and shake my head in disbelief. :-) Good luck with that, and be assured by someone who is there: It's stressful as hell, but it's the best invested stress you'll ever had.
  • If you're overdue for a raise, would getting an office make up for it?
  • My cubicle (Score:3, Funny)

    by FullCircle (643323) on Friday February 10, 2006 @02:28AM (#14685442)
    is a hexagon made of dry erase board.

    All the hexagons are attached in a sort of hive configuration.

    Would I give it up?

    Hell no.
    • Heh. Did something similar at a previous shop. Moved from an office that had actual offices to cube farm. We ordered a mess of 8x4' white boards, which were turned sideways and lifted up a couple feet on the side of our cubes. Strangely enough, it was just tall enough to make it to the ceiling.
  • I actually love my cube, as far as cubes go. It's in the back corner of the cube farm, so it was at the end of the "hallway" which went between the windows and the cubes. I took down the walls between me and the hallway so I could annex that space (the hallway went 1 cube section past my 'door' and into a wall) and get a view out the window. (Note: cube sections do not come apart anywhere near as easily as Office Space would have you believe.) Our facilities manager was surprised to find out that I wasn
  • My office sucks. It's too cold in the winter (there is actually cold air coming out of the heating system in the winter), too warm in the summer, and opening windows doesn't make the atmosphere much better. I used to be in the oxygen free zone on my floor, so I shouldn't complain, but the fact is that my office complies with but a tiny amount of the requirements my gouvernment made for offices. And I get payed by my ***n gouvernment!
  • From reading the other comments here it seems that whether private offices are important is a matter of personal opinion. From asking about this it sounds like you don't really value it. If you've been in a cube farm/shared offices then you should have a good idea what works for you, productivity wise. If not, try to determine that before making any changes. Also consider who you'd be around if you didn't have a private office. If it's with people you work with often in a shared office, it might be be

  • Well, I'm currently sitting in an officer with a cow-orker (which has just left, though), which is nice and quiet. While the door is always open, it does give me the chance to concentrate and get work done.
    If anybody needs something from me, send an email. I don't have to answer it immediately (contrary to a visit/phone call), and thus get a lot more work done.

    I 've refused several jobs where I'd have to sit in a cubicle. Terrible idea, no peace and quiet at all. Sure it's suited for certain occupations, bu
  • I've seen headphones sprout in shared offices with too many people. The headphones allow workers to tune out their surroundings and also discourage others from interrupting that person, just like walls and closed doors.
  • One of my former companies did it's own office creation, and it cost us about half what cubicle partitions do.

    Because we put the drywall up ourselves the hourly rate was a bit higher than the cubicle-mechanics, but the quality was way better.

    This was using steel bracketing and standard drywall & drywall screws... The month after we painted them pretty (non-beige) colors.

    --dave

  • Just so you know, the cost of a cubicle is -not- $0. I've heard figures quoted around $3000 at the low end for cubicle space. So your company is not offering you a $10,000 perk there to exchange for more cash. It probably works out to more like $5000, and the company make take a hit on your productivity that makes it more valuable to them than saving the cash.
  • I worked in an office in the Boston area. It was OK in summer, but in winter it became clear that the building's HVAC was fundamentally faulty: it had no humidity control, so the air was literally drier than a desert (below 10% humidity). Lots of people had headaches, sinus problems, and so on.

    Then the company decided they wanted to clear out the entire floor I was on, and turn it into a center for customer meetings. I was told I could either move to a cubicle on another floor, or move to a home office. You
  • It depends heavily on the job.

    Personally I'm a scientist (well, ok, I'm currently looking, but otherwise) and there's a pretty big disconnect between what you're doing. You obviously need lab space to do work in and it's just plain idiotic to have each person working in their own little lab. Each research group, yeah, but not each person. Depending on your lab and what you do people either pick out lab stations or you set up areas based on the work done in them. The thing is, you're not always working in th
  • ...with smart courteous people is the way to go. However at most places they simply put all of the 'tech' people into a crowded space, working on unrelated projects. Some people are loud and rude, (eating at their desk, coming into work sick, bad hygiene, having private conversations in close proximity to coworkers.)

    From what I see Google has it right.

    - Everyone working in the same space is on the same project.
    - They have a dedicated cafeteria. I would imagine that eating at your desk and taking unrelated p
  • Your question is moot, because the business world doesn't work that way:

    Hmm, we can save $2000 per year by putting Jones in a tiny cubicle instead of an expensive office. (then) Hmm, why are we paying some loser who doesn't even have his own office $70K per year? (then) Hmm, we can save $3000 per year by having Jones sit in that little vacant booth in the parking lot. (then) Hmm, we're paying that guy in the booth $38K per year--the least he can do is a wear a bowtie and a little vest. (then) Etc.

  • You'd even (*gasp*) move into a cubicle? Where exactly do you think most of us already are, you insensitive clod? I'm thinking that if you are working in an actual office, you don't need an extra $5,000/year.
  • I'd be willing to share my office with a colleague or even move into a cubicle in exchange for a mere $5,000/year pay rise.

    We did that at my company. We moved to a smaller office and most of us went from small private offices to open cubes and a lucky few got to share a small office. I heard our VP bought her Lexus with the bonus she got for saving money. Us? We got to wear shorts while we helped with the move. Oh, and one of the IS guys dropped half our Sun boxes off the back of his pickup so we g

  • The most productive space I've found is sitting in the back of a meeting I don't care about. I get no interruptions and the background noise is just the right level.
  • Background: I've worked in software development and QA since 1980. I've worked in multi-nationals (IDM, DEC, WANG, PR1ME) down to startups with 3 people and many other sizes in between.

    Sensitivity: Some people are more sensitive than others. There is a range of stimulus within which people are comfortable. Too little stimulus and they are bored; too much, and there's an urge to yell "SHUT UP!". In between is where people are most productive. Imagine a thermometer, but marked in amount of stimulus i

    • For the last few years I've worked for a large consultancy which shall remain nameless because they're likely to hit the news soon anyway (I left for a reason ;-), and they had some designer type redo the offices. 'Hotdesking' is IMHO an excuse not to offer storage space, and I found teh the best work I could do was when locked away in a conference room instead of in teh middle of a gazillion half overheard phone conversations (other than by sticking headsets on but that has it's own problems - not everyon
  • I am pleased to say that I now, once again, have an office with a door. I got it because I got promoted to management and there's a perception that managers need an office with a door so that they can conduct private discussions with employees and other managers. To be honest, my old cube was right smack dab alongside the cubes of the people I now manage and I miss having that close contact. I didn't really want to move until it was explained that I really had to move. In the old cube I could back up from m
  • I currently inhabit one third of a standard 8x8 cubicle. I would settle for either cash compensation to me or paying the other two guys to shower and brush their teeth more often.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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