Host's Diary
5:24 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

What's the Physical Space Like Where You Work?

Depressing Cambridge University cubicles.
Depressing Cambridge University cubicles.
Credit cmglee / Creative Commons

We're working on a show about whether work is the best place to do work. So we're nosy interested in how you feel about the physical spaces at your job. 

I'm going to open up to you. The physical layout here at WNPR is kind of messed up. For example Betsy Kaplan, who is a very important producer and is in fact producing the very episode in question, often sits in a miserable room that looks like the place they put the luggage that's still sitting on the carousel after all the passengers go home. In the Bucharest airport. The interns are in there too. Pretty quickly they become depressed and then just unresponsive, like some kind of terrible psych experiment on macaques. 

Heather Brandon, the very important editor of the very website you're reading, is about to be shunted to a very unpleasant little corner carrel where I used to sit when I was first hired and they were trying to break my spirit test my commitment. I'm the one who wrote "redrum" on the wall there in my own body fluids. It's difficult to explain how estranged from human laughter this place is. If a housewife was picking up some extra money by doing phone sex while the kids were at school, this is the little area right off the kitchen she would set up to do it. Harriet Jones has sat there too, but she is from Scotland, so there is no breaking her spirit. At least, not with bleakness. 

Mr. Dankosky and I have adjoining offices, but the wall does not go all the way up to the ceiling, so each of us can hear every word the other says all day.

Nobody has a door that closes. When we want to have a really super private meeting -- like, let's say we were concerned that the producer with the drinking problem was stealing change from the desk of the reporter who is demonically possessed -- we go into one of the radio studios. Where there are five microphones. 

Most of the reporters and producers are crammed around a tight rectangle of desks, so there is no way to talk to one of them without bothering several others in the process. 

And don't even get me started on where Greg Hill, a web guy whose voice you hear a lot on our show, sits. Imagine that the god Apollo was your third grade teacher and you did something really bad in class, such as kill a deer consecrated to him, and Mr. Apollo said, as punishment, you have to sit all by yourself for the rest of measurable time. 

It all kind of works. We always feel like we're spatially improvising or that, collectively, we're like one of those crustaceans that takes over another animal's shell. Like maybe we're not supposed to be here, but it's home. 

You could even argue that this is as close to a right answer as it gets, that -- for the purpose of creating a dynamic and creative environment -- nobody should be too comfortable or too forlorn. People should have to move around a lot and reconfigure in small and large groups. Like the Ohio State marching band. 

How about where you work? Is the physical space good? Or does it suck? If you email me stories at colin@wnpr.org, I will bring them to Betsy and reclaim your luggage. It's the black one with the pink yarn tied to the handle, right? Thought so. Here is the Ohio State Marching Band.