Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday with Jordan: random rambling

Fridays are usually Brian's day to post, but he's working at the Ottawa Comicon, so his brain is set to stun. (Trekkies are laughing.) That's okay, because I have started writing on the bus, which means that I'm producing more writing than I can post the rest of the week. Consider this like the bonus footage on the DVD.


I was surfing the net the other day (why does that sound antiquated?), when I came across a local company that had the most intriguing 'we're hiring' page ever. They promised catered meals, open workspaces, and freedom with your schedule. They talked about fostering creativity by letting you do your job, your way. While I love my job I’m in right now, I'd be lying if I didn't find myself wishing I could work at this other place. A few days after seeing their site, I actually drove past this business and saw that the staff had been drawing foolishness on the windows. I sighed in utter envy.

I’ve worked in offices before, but my new one is definitely the most formal and structured. It’s a bit of culture shock, and I’m learning to adjust. But seeing this local biz, I found myself thinking, what would be my ideal workspace?

Naturally, my first thought was of a blanket fort. Yes, that is my natural first thought, and I’d argue it should have been yours, as well. Actually, maybe more of a pillow fort. I would drape my workspace in sheets ‘til it resembled one of those gypsy tents in the movies. I would sit on the floor in a nest of pillows and play music softly on my laptop. People who want to talk to me would have to knock, or maybe ring a little bell, take off their shoes, then come in—just for the theatrics. I would have incandescent bulbs, not fluorescent headache-makers, and strings of led fairy lights.


Of course, wardrobe would have to change, because curling up cross-legged in polyester pantsuits is just awful. There have been studies on the effect of wardrobe in group settings, and the reality is that any sort of uniform--this includes business suits--are meant to psychologically set people into certain cognitive-behavioural patterns. Business attire is formal, standardized, conformist, modest. Studies show that this will affect your behavior for the time you're dressed in such a way. I find myself missing the creativity I would show each morning, in previous jobs, where I'd put together a funky and unique outfit each morning, one befitting my mood and projects for the day. In jobs with wardrobe freedom, it was like I was priming my imagination each morning for a more improvisational, artistic headspace. Naturally, as a marketer/writer/social media person, this is a good thing.


As for open-concept workspaces, well, I haven't had a ton of love for them in my career; but I'm an introvert when I'm working (read this article or this one about the power of introverts) and my jobs haven't generally allowed for introverted time. In a past job, I worked in one of these trendy multi-organizational offices where there are four people slotted into one four-person cubicle, which is supposed to foster connectivity and collaboration (despite thestudies that say they're actually failing). My opinion on why this is failing: it’s the deterrent to personalization. One of the cubicle 'pods' was made up of a team that decorated with plush animals and goofy knickknacks, and they seemed happy in their space. Meanwhile, I placed my 6-inch-tall Tokidoki tiger balanced on top of my cubicle wall, and I was promptly told that, while my desk was my personal space, no one was prepared to accept that the airspace ABOVE my cubicle was also my space. My tiger came down, and I realized I was pretty much stuck in an invisible mime box. What if my head came up over the fuzzy partitions? What happened if I stood up while filing stuff? 


But imagining my dream space...well, it doesn’t have to be an entire fort. My desk would sit near-ish a window, close enough that I can throw some cushions into the window bay, drag my laptop over, and work in a sunbeam. On rough days, I would pull my Tarepanda stuffie down under my desk, where I will have made a piecemeal chair out of pillows and probably strung my fairy lights. I'd have a huge whiteboard to myself for all my organizational post-its and my sudden dry erase marker scribblings. On this particular day maybe I've worn my ninja cupcake tee, and a pair of the striped rainbow knee socks I still keep from my roller derby days. I wore Converse on the commute but I've changed into bunny slippers because when my feet are cold I can't focus. I take a break in the afternoon to go buy a new mug, then I have a ‘lightbulb moment’ on York Street, so I stop on a bench and write it out.

I’m not sure I can convince my officemates that this is an ideal setup and dresscode, but I was thinking on Monday I might just wear my ninja cupcake shirt under my suit jacket. A tiny nod to my creative spirit, who’s struggling to fit into her current digs.

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