My job, while occasionally stressful and frustrating, comes with some pretty fantastic perks. These include (but are not limited to…) an extremely flexible schedule most of the time, the ability to work pretty much wherever I want (this is a function of the company more than my role specifically), a room full of nifty gear for me to play with, and best of all, awesome coworkers.
Very soon, my team and I will be ousted from the building we’d all been calling home in favour of a shinier, more modular building in the downtown area. This was met with much skepticism by my team, but although I’ve been in the new building before, I’d never really taken the time to wander around, find all the resources, sit, work and really figure out its perks. So that’s what I did today.
Aside from being sorry I forgot my camera (which, yes, I’m not supposed to have on the premises, but shh), here are my conclusions about this new office-home, where I will be spending between 20-40% of my work week starting sometime in the new year.
- Phenomenal view. Being downtown means being close to Parliament, and from my current desk (which admittedly isn’t really “mine”, since this is a mobile office) I can see the sun lighting up the Peace Tower; very pretty.
- Bus route. There is an express bus which makes the trip from my front lawn (seriously) to this building in 35 minutes. (Well, or so it alleges. I haven’t tried it yet. I suspect I will though, despite the extra “express” bus charge.)
- Proximity to folk. No longer will I have to worry about parking downtown for customer meetings — now I can walk! On top of that, as DanD points out, we have a goodly number of friends who work downtown, so on those days when I’ve got free lunch times, we can hang out and eat together!
- The SconeWitch. I have no way of expressing the blinding joy I feel at being so, so, so close to this restaurant. I’m sure they’re packed around lunchtime, but I eat at odd hours, so I’m equally sure I’m also going to have to impose some limitations on myself to prevent ridiculous scone-scarfage. (Note: although many of the reviews reference bad service, I’ve never had a problem with it. That said, I’ve only ever been on weekends.)
- Tonnes of smaller meeting rooms. Our previous building had a major shortage of rooms where small teams (5ish folk) could meet and discuss. This office, however, has around 8, each of which has a projector and whiteboards. Our team may well end up squatting in one of these room on our group day, but either way, I’m very happy to have the rooms available.
So… that’s the good stuff. Moving onto the bad, I found that the majority of my complaints are more around the fact that it’s a Soulless, Faceless, Cubeless Mobility Office. Each workstation is (in theory anyway) up for grabs, meaning you don’t leave any personal crap there. The walls between each station are ridiculously low, meaning any conversation (even quiet conversation) will disturb those around you, and phone calls just annoy everyone. (This isn’t such a big deal until you remember that my division is the sales division.)
I have no issue with the “mobility work area” in general; it’s a good way of pooling resources and probably saves the company money. That said, it destroys the ability for teams to work together, because when there are no walls, or even mid-height cube mini-walls, any conversation is disruptive. And what is the point of sitting with your team if you can’t chat?
Still, I tried to keep that in mind and not hold it against the office. What I was left with was…
- Not having a designated work area can suck. Given that I expect to be in this building on the same days as other folk on our team, we’re staking out an isolated “wing” of the floor with smaller work areas so that we can chat and otherwise carry on socially in a way that would be very disruptive on the rest of the floor. If someone else books any of these desks on one of those days, however, conflict may ensue.
- My Stuff isn’t here. I’m not talking about personal effects, I’m talking about my room full of gear. True, it’s not every day that I need or want it, but not having the option of using it on a day when I’m downtown is limiting.
- There’s nowhere to eat. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that if I’m eating lunch in the office, 99% of the time I’m eating it at my desk, probably while listening to a conference call, but aside from a tiny 4-person “lunch room”, this place doesn’t even give you the option. There’s a kitchenette equipped with a huge fridge, two microwaves and all the coffee and tea you can shake a stick at… but nowhere sociable to sit and eat? That seems a little silly. I guess they expect everyone to eat out.
- There is a gym in the building, which charges $330/year for off-peak usage (meaning 6-10am, 2-9pm). That seems, from what I know about gym membership pricing, to be quite reasonable. However, there are other questions which get raised here. For example, the building has bike lockers for commuters — but are the showers available to non-gym members, or do those non-member bikers just have to be smelly for the day? More investigation is in order, but I’m not all that impressed with the facilities on that front. (Our previous building was in the middle of nowhere, but had showers and lockers available to absolutely everyone, which I personally would value more than a gym and zumba classes.)
Conclusion: It’s better than I feared. I may well come to really like the building. Time will tell.
On to scouting of an entirely different sort: cookie scouting! I’m participating in a friend’s cookie exchange tomorrow, and after a lot of indecision and back and forth on restrictions (gluten-free? no tree nuts? diabetic-friendly? in the end, only the nut stipulation remained) I chose Garrett’s peppermint bark cookies entirely because they were both ooey-gooey-dark-chocolatey-looking, and would offer me a way to use up more of my stash of candycanes. (I know. I need to learn to just throw stuff out. I’m working on it. … Slowly.)
Anyway, so I made them, and have received confirmation from a few of tonight’s taste testers that they are indeed exchange-worthy. W00t! Personally, I found them to be much better warm (I like melty cookies), and if I were to make them again, I would include grated chocolate as well as cocoa for added gooeyness, and add either peppermint flavouring in the dough, or use bigger/more mint candy; the chocolate did overpower these a bit (and it takes a lot for me to say that). Still, a tasty success!
Lastly, because I feel bad about not photographing the spectacular view from my work today, I leave you instead with the freak baby carrot I encountered at lunch. (I preserved it so I could share, people; never let it be said I don’t suffer for my art, or whatever.) Here:
Full disclosure: terrible, bitey harm may or may not have befallen the above carrot after the taking of this picture. No further updates have been forthcoming from the carrot spokesperson.