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The Worst Workspaces In Tech

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the best-and-the-worst-all-at-the-same-time dept.

Businesses 209

nicholas.m.carlson writes help you feel better about your hovel. Vallywag recently compiled a list of the top ten places to work, but the resulting submissions and exploration also provided them with an interesting look at some of the worst places to work. "What makes them so bad? Some offend with exposed fluorescent lights, gray cubicles and a dystopian corporate sheen. But others, with their pseudo-hip graffiti, kindergarten toys and plastic decorations — all in a desperate attempt to seem 'Internet-y' — come off even worse."

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Not so bad. (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357570)

I think some of these people doing this review are a bit spoiled. They are used to their private cubicals, posh offices, etc.

At least most of the people in these environments have new workstations, a monitor or two and some deskspace.

The don't show the tech business running out of a cockroach infested hotel room with 10 year old computers using dial up to connect to the net.

Re:Not so bad. (2, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357694)

Some of those places look pretty nice next to the cube farm I'm at (though I like working there, don't get me wrong). Low or little walls encourage collaboration, everyone has a laptop to tote around to work wherever (but what's with all the laptops at the Mozilla meeting? talk about getting nothing done), and though some of the wall "art" might get obnoxious, it can't be much worse than all the inspirational quotes that adorn my office.

Re:Not so bad. (3, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357742)

I agree. I was looking at the pictures thinking, 'what? these are supposed to be bad?'. Sure cubicles aren't a nice private office, but that's just how most places are. I see a lot of attempts by employees to try and decorate them a bit to make it more friendly/fun. What's wrong with that?

Compared to having just a desk in an open room (like in the one set of pictures), I'd much rather a cubicle to call my own and hangup/decorate as I like.

Re:Not so bad. (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358292)

It's not about the office so much as the tasks. I had an employer come in one day and tell me he was going to start putting together Porn and Bestiality sites and have his new partner (Alan Ralsky) bulk mail advertise them.

Re:Not so bad. (4, Interesting)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357774)

I think some of these people doing this review are a bit spoiled. They are used to their private cubicals, posh offices, etc.
Nothing beats home - you know you're on a winner when you sit down and say "I can't believe they are paying me money to do this!"

Re:Not so bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357794)

Their private cubical what?

The worst workspace? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357816)

My least favorite workspace is the Visual Basic 5.0 workspace. The interface is cluttered, the grids pacing is too small, and the menu system sucks.

*rimshot*

Re:The worst workspace? (4, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357888)

Yeah, but at least it doesn't Rot the Mind. [charlespetzold.com]

Re:The worst workspace? (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358282)

Yish, lengthy article, but good read nonetheless. Does intellisense really rot your mind? No. At least it doesn't any more than other code completers say, Eclipse. He talks about two approaches: Top-Down/Bottom-Up. I say I'm a little of both. First, find out what the backend needs and then design my interfaces and my input objects. Then it's only a matter of stubbing out the plumbing and then putting the meat on. Intellisense helps me worry about other things. Heaven forbid we all go back to the notepad days...

Re:Not so bad. (1)

Dr. LeRoy (104954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357820)

Adobe...one of the 10 worst tech places to work? Puleeze....have these folks ever been outside of silicon valley? Every workstation I saw had multiple displays and chairs of the high end variety.

D[h]ell (5, Informative)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357978)

In 2006 when I started at Dell we had one 15" tube monitor.

We did not have cubes, we had this abomination called a pod.

The pod walls are 18 inches higher than the surface of your desk.

The person sitting across from you can be heard just as
clearly on your phone as you can.

Dell would not pay for noise canceling headsets.

Dell uses a Compaq ie. HP mainframe to run their ticket system.

Now that is some damn irony.

It took me multiple weeks of begging to receive my very own
company purchased pen and notepad.

They monitor to "the second" how long you go to bathroom and
it is part of your evaluations.

Emails to customers are expected to be done between calls,
or while waiting for reboots, or when there are no calls.

You have to get permission to work overtime to get aforementioned
emails done outside your 8 hr shift.

Yet...they constant ask you to work overtime to take more calls.

On overnight shift they ask you take "platinum calls" ie. MCSE
required when you don't have even an MCSA.

To be honest that is a contract violation.

This is not for Desktop or Workstation Support, this is for
Server Support.

So for me D[h]ell will always be #1 worst place to work period.

Re:D[h]ell (3, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358322)

They monitor to "the second" how long you go to bathroom and it is part of your evaluations.


I'd like to see what happens the first time they try that on somebody with either kidney or bladder problems.

Re:D[h]ell (5, Interesting)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358382)

When I worked Bresnan Communications they did just that to a woman I worked with and came up with a new policy that all bathroom usage must be done on breaks and we would be monitored to be sure we were not taking time outside of them for breaks. I refused to sign the policy. They kept bringing it to me. They told me I'd be fired if I didn't sign it. I asked why they needed me to sign it as I would be held to it as a condition of my employment. They simply told me have it signed by the end of the day and then came back and had a supervisor stand over me while I signed it. I signed it and put "signed under duress" below my signature.

I worked to try and organize with the Communications Workers of America. That idea fell through when someone was told that I didn't trust at all. I finally ended up giving the company the finger and moved a good portion of the way across the country. After leaving they found a copy of the source code of some SNMP network management software I had written. I wrote it on my own time to assist the staff as they wouldn't pay Motorola and Arris for the tools we needed to do our job. They changed the graphics to their logos and renamed it Bresnan something or other. After hitting the coast I ended up finding a job working as a systems analyst for a labor union [other than CWA] and am part of a staff union that is represented by CWA. Being union represented isn't perfect. But it really beats having to deal with things like the BS that went on at Bresnan Communications.

Re:D[h]ell (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358458)

When I worked Bresnan Communications they did just that to a woman I worked with and came up with a new policy that all bathroom usage must be done on breaks and we would be monitored to be sure we were not taking time outside of them for breaks.
That's probably illegal as hell.

As far as the program goes, can you prove that the source code is yours? If so, you can probably hit them hard for copyright infringement (somewhere to the tune of $120,000 per infringing copy in use)

Re:D[h]ell (1)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358540)

I did talk to a copyright lawyer. They weren't selling the code only using it internally with their labeling. The money I'd have had after lawyers' fees wasn't worth the headache and stress. I spoke several times to one of the supervisors who wasn't a complete jerk and after several months they told me they had at least stopped using it and I confirmed it with current employees. Headquarters in NY, which is nowhere near their service area in the Rocky Mountains, spent millions on some proprietary system that Comcast uses. It doesn't have some of the features what I had written in to mine that were specific to the modems we used. Different things with standby on the SB5100 and switching ring waveforms in Arris MTAs. Some of the employees I worked with that are still there have asked me to take the software commercial in hopes that they would then purchase the software.

Re:D[h]ell (1)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358552)

When I worked Bresnan Communications they did just that to a woman I worked with and came up with a new policy that all bathroom usage must be done on breaks and we would be monitored to be sure we were not taking time outside of them for breaks.
That's probably illegal as hell.
A lot of things they did were illegal. I helped some staff with understanding FMLA. They were also regularly violating FLSA by not paying for things like waiting for Windows updates and their software to run as well as checking email in the morning.

Re:D[h]ell (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358330)

Intel does the following:

Hires multiple development teams, in offices in different parts of the world.
Assigns the same project to the various teams. Teams do not know about each other.
One team shows a likelihood of success, the rest of the projects are cancelled,
employees are terminated.

It's happened to more than one colleague of mine, one of whom was forced to participate
in this at the corporate management level.

These are bad workspaces? (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357920)

Are you kidding me?

I don't think these people have ever seen bad workspaces. Adobe is "unfriendly"? They have lots of light, lots of space, good furniture, palm trees... oh yeah, they have a fsckin' basketball court. Piss poor facilities, obviously.

Of all of the "bad" choices, only facebook's could possibly deserve to be on that list, as it looks like a high school cafeteria with monitors. Otherwise... I'd say the problem is that the tastes of the Valleywag people are ridiculous.

Re:These are bad workspaces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357938)

No kidding. Compared to the offices I've worked in, the places in the article are dreams. And I've worked for fairly well-off companies.

Re:These are bad workspaces? (5, Funny)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358288)

>oh yeah, they have a fsckin' basketball court.

So does the San Jose County Jail.

Re:Not so bad. (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357950)

yeah, you're kinda right. I hate this one though http://valleywag.com/photogallery/Microsoftheadquarters/1001409837 [valleywag.com] I could get nothing done here, too much ability to see and talk, plus I'd never get to browse slashdot - I'd always feel like big brother was there. this one caught my eye too, diggin' the book layout below the monitor http://valleywag.com/photogallery/GoogleplexWorst/1001410045 [valleywag.com] of course that might just be a laptop with papers over the keyboard.

Re:Not so bad. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358042)

I wouldn't mind the MS office. As long as that was my PERSONAL office.

Re:Not so bad. (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358248)

I don't know I think if I had that kind of space I might go for dual or triple projectors. After I posted, it occured to me that, that office looks like it hasn't ever been worked in at all, you notice how none of the desks have pens, papers, books, phones, people? It looks more like a monitoring site than any sort of a workspace. I think if it were my personal office I might clear out at least two rows of crap for just some simple table space.

Re:Not so bad. (4, Interesting)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358564)

That picture of "Microsoft" is a demo lab at a conference. The article actually has 0 pictures of a typical work-space from that company. Makes me wonder how accurate their other ones are...

Re:Not so bad. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357974)

I think some of these people doing this review are a bit spoiled.
No shit. The review doesn't even delve into the fact that, while offices may be sparsely decorated, the jobs may be great. My office was a featureless white room stacked high with cables, parts, and all kinds of tech detritus for years. But the fact that I got to come in every day and work with smart people-- and get paid to do it-- far overshadowed my lackluster surroundings. I mean, seriously, most of us have it pretty f'ing good. Any of you ever have a hard job? I worked in a warehouse in high school, and I worked as a waiter in college. Those jobs really make me appreciate the relative cushiness of my current job.

Aperture Science (5, Funny)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357580)

Aperture Science. Despite the nice, clean looking test chambers, the rest of the facility is quite a dump.

There's also an AI who flooded the place with a deadly neurotoxin...

Re:Aperture Science (4, Funny)

Mordough (1104631) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357840)

But at the end there is cake. So delicious and moist. Don't forget to bring your companion cube.

Interesting. (5, Insightful)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357592)

The List: -Yahoo
-Mozilla
-Mahalo
-Google
-Microsoft
-LinkedIn
-Jajah
-Facebook
-DoubleClick
-Adobe

I find it funny how they say Google is one of the worst places to work, yet everyone seems to want to work there.

Re:Interesting. (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357726)

He's just jealous his application got turned down.

Where is the TPS report driven office with a lot.. (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357596)

Where is the TPS report driven office with a lot bosses?

Re:Where is the TPS report driven office with a lo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357640)

Sadly, in my workplace...

Re:Where is the TPS report driven office with a lo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357870)

Expeditors International of Washington.

Re:Where is the TPS report driven office with a lo (1)

anti-human 1 (911677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358304)

Hey at least you guys could fill out an Air Waybill :P From the cargo agent side, I'd have guessed that DHL Danzas had the retarded management scheme.

Once upon a time, I handled Cargolux out of SeaTac.

Where is Slashdot? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357608)

We're number one! We're number one!

Oh wait, wrong list.

Re:Where is Slashdot? (5, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357746)

Here [cmdrtaco.net]

Re:Where is Slashdot? (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358366)

Sweet Jesus. Looks like the offices I worked in when I was doing tech support for a small ISP in central Wisconsin back in '99. Yeah, floors hadn't seen a vacuum in maybe 9 months. Phew! Credit to CmdrTaco, though, at least his office area looks respectable.

Re:Where is Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358008)

The corp HQ in silicon valley looks pretty much like those Yahoo pictures, only with shorter cubicle walls. Not that I'd rag on my employer or anything.

-Not Taco

Office Snapshot -- A photograph collection... (4, Informative)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357626)

Neatorama [neatorama.com] shares Office Snapshots [officesnapshots.com] Web site that has a collection of interior office photographs of various popular/well known companies. It is generally from Web/Tech companies.

does it really matter? (5, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357630)

As a college dropout (A's in CS, fsck philosophy), it was tough getting my foot in the door. One mistake I made along the way was letting a risk-taker scare me off with stories of sometimes having to work in boiler room type surroundings.

If it's good work, the atmosphere becomes almost invisible. Some of the best companies in history started in a garage and some of the worst started atop skyscrapers.

Re:does it really matter? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357736)

As a college dropout (A's in CS, fsck philosophy)

Ah yes, the telltale sign of a well rounded person.

Irrelevant Pictures and Inaccuracies (5, Informative)

linumax (910946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357666)

I noticed some of the pictures seem very very random.

From the comments:

I have worked at Microsoft in Redmond for the last 7 years. Of the Microsoft photos, only one of them looks like an actual Microsoft workspace in Redmond; the one in which there are several people crowded around what looks like a coffee table. And even that one is not a typical office or conference room. It looks like a makeshift conference room. At least two of the photos are of the Orlando, FL convention center where Microsoft has an annual event. In reality none of the photos are typical of Redmond, where most employees have single-occupancy private offices.

Re:Irrelevant Pictures and Inaccuracies (1)

dedtr9 (1069932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357764)

I was at a convention in Redmond a few years ago, and from what I remember, that comment is pretty accurate.

Re:Irrelevant Pictures and Inaccuracies (5, Insightful)

Skim123 (3322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357852)

I was an intern at Microsoft back in the last millenia and had my own private office half the summer, with a door and a 24" monitor. The other half of the summer I shared that office with another employee.

I've been to the Redmond campus a half dozen times since then, and the place is still one of the most appealing work environments I've ever seen.

Re:Irrelevant Pictures and Inaccuracies (5, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358246)

I have to agree, I've worked at Microsoft twice as a temp programmer. The first time I had a private office, the next I shared an office. Bad place to work? Hardly. And what's really hilarious is those photos are of the Washington State Convention Center, not of the Microsoft campus. BTW, the convention center is really nice too. To hold *conventions* in, that is.

And I can't believe Google was listed because of a "kindergarden" design motif. Holy crap, who gives a flying f***? Smells like a quick throw-together article, with listings designed to draw ire (and thus page hits).

Sorry, when you can't even get basic facts correct, I can't believe much else you say or show either.

Re:Irrelevant Pictures and Inaccuracies (4, Interesting)

sheldon (2322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357990)

Agreed. The one picture with the rows and rows of computers appears to be the Hands-on lab at TechEd.

I'm not impressed with either of these articles. My preferred environment is someplace clean and uncluttered. Yet valleywag called the offices with gimmicks the best, and the nice clean offices the worst?

I wish I had a picture of the "office" I and six other consultants were put in years ago. It was the former mainframe tape storage closet. No windows. Six feet wide, with a table along the wall. When the guy at the end wanted to go to the bathroom, everybody had to get up and let him through.

whoa (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357674)

For a minute there I didn't see the person behind the desk in this picture [valleywag.com] , and thought Google greeted visitors in their lobby with just a PC, with a browser opened to their home page, maybe as a portal to a special internal "Google campus" search database that could tell you things like where Joe Blow sits or when the gift shop closes. Receptionists soon to be obsolete.

Re:whoa (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357814)

thought Google greeted visitors in their lobby with just a PC, with a browser opened to their home page
Quick tip: don't try to type in a yahoo url in the browser, the keyboard is hooked up to a wall socket to help you choose the "correct" search engine :)

Re:whoa (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358242)

You haven't heard? Google has a special search engine for the Googleplex that tells you exactly where their employees are at any given moment.

Luxury! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357738)

I have to work in a cubicle where the guy down the hall shouts on speakerphone all day, and another guy plays Pure Moods at maximum volume while singing along to Return to Innocence. HIYAA HIIII, OOOOOH OHH HIYA, OH AYYEE EE EE... shoot me now....

These places may look like crap... (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357750)

But they're a helluva lot nicer than the shitty 'Valleywag' website.

I wonder what their offices look like.

Closely packed (1)

Valacosa (863657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357752)

I hope all of those Mozilla developers shower.

I know one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357772)

You could work in my rectum. I hear it's a pretty shitty place to work.

My Personal Hell (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357784)

Three middle-aged women talking non-stop about their kids, their husbands, their soon-to-be deceased parents, and did I mention their fucking kids?

Thank God for Mr. Sennheiser [sennheiserusa.com] and his noise-canceling headphones.

Re:My Personal Hell (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357928)

I would have left that company long ago under those circumstances. To hell with that!

So did you give them nick names? May I suggest Mouth 1, Mouth 2, and Mouth 3? Call that enough times, and *maybe* they'll keep their pie-holes shut.

Re:My Personal Hell (1)

colourmyeyes (1028804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358384)

Where have all the good tags gone?
Where HAVE all the good tags gone? They've become so lame lately.

Is that the worst they could come up with? (5, Insightful)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357786)

Grey cubicles at Google, seriously?

I had a boss who worked for a company that referred to the owner of the company as "Lord Vader" because she was utterly insane. It had a turnover rate that was prettymuch total on a yearly basis.

I had to work once a week for a while in a warehouse in a metal chair with no one else around and an ancient piece of computer technology.

There is at least one game company that seems to have a vested interest in driving its employees into the ground and treating them like children.

I know another place that had computer technology that was so out of date it could barely run the software we were developing.

I am not sure if any of these constitute the "worst" places to work, or even how they rate to the companies listed in the article, but surely there are worse things out there than the horror of grey cubicles.

Re:Is that the worst they could come up with? (2, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357838)

I know another place that had computer technology that was so out of date it could barely run the software we were developing.
I bet that really cut down on bloat, though.

Re:Is that the worst they could come up with? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357980)

Exactly. This whole idea of developing software on next year's specs has been an unmitigated disaster for the industy. The best way to keep programmers aware of performance issues is to give them slightly older hardware to develop on. It's not rocket science.

Re:Is that the worst they could come up with? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357976)

surely there are worse things out there than the horror of grey cubicles.

Such as when I was in the Marines and had to set up shop in an ISO container surrounded by concertina wire. Not only did I work in that space, but also slept there too. Boy, was that lousy when it rained... if you have ever been in a building with a tin roof, you have an idea of what I mean.



One intangible benefit of military service: no matter how much things suck, someone is around who remembers something worse

Bad Slideshows (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357804)

When do we get to see "10 Worst Slideshows on the Internet?" Those Flash TiVo ads made me dizzy.

Re:Bad Slideshows (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358056)

Flash ads? You're kidding aren't you? Who sees Flash ads any more?!

Re:Bad Slideshows (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358436)

Flash ads? You're kidding aren't you? Who sees Flash ads any more?!

Sorry, er, um, I'm new here, and forgot where I was posting!

Best = Worst (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357828)

I think the ten best story posted a couple days ago shows work spaces that are pretty much interchangeable with those shown in this one. I'll repeat what I said then: a private office is better than any workspace listed, now in either list.

Microsoft spaces (1)

VTBassMatt (761333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357850)

None of the "Microsoft workspaces" pictures are typical Microsoft offices.

What no Amazon? (4, Interesting)

Tomy (34647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357854)

When I worked there they found that if they shrunk our cubes by a couple of feet they could get X more programmers in the building.

Nothing like having your restricted little world reduced by two feet. I even had to give up my red stapler.

Re:What no Amazon? (3, Interesting)

Sanat (702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358018)

While an engineer at McDonnell Douglas each pay grade had a certain size office. If you get promoted then you might get the bigger credenza, a thicker rug, the walls might be moved out two feet, a bigger desk... that was to keep harmony with the jealous types of somebody's office being bigger/better than another person's. All based on pay grade.

Several maintenance men were paid full time to keep this stupidity going.

Re:What no Amazon? (2, Insightful)

Tomy (34647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358058)

Somehow that reminds me of the scene from Brazil where they are pulling on the shared desk through the wall.

Ultimately, corporations reduce us all to idiots.

Re:What no Amazon? (1)

ed.markovich (1118143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358266)

When I worked there they found that if they shrunk our cubes by a couple of feet they could get X more programmers in the building.

what would you have them do? Freeze hiring until the move to a new HQ?

Re:What no Amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358338)

Sign a lease on a 2nd office. An enlightened company realizes that supplying reasonable working conditions are part of the cost of keeping (or hiring) an employee.

Volunteer to help people in Myanmar? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357872)

Offtopic, but please, if someone wanted to go to Myanmar and volunteer to help, how would they go about it please and could they go for free and have living expenses and food payed for in exchange for working to help the people there? Or would you have to put money up to participate in relief efforts? I have no need for comforts, I can eat one meal a day of simple scraps and be content.

Re:Volunteer to help people in Myanmar? (0, Offtopic)

Tomy (34647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358032)

Perhaps an "Ask Slashdot" would be a better way to get an answer rather than asking in a thread about cubes?

Huh? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357876)

None of those places are that bad. I've worked in plenty of worse/less conducive to getting shit done places than any of those. Hell, even the Mozilla folks look like they've got actual desks as opposed to, say, folding tables and chairs. And I've seen way dingier, more depressing cube farms than anything in that list.

These people are SO out of touch (5, Funny)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357936)

These are the worst workplaces? Maybe in California. I've worked in much worse. My current employer (whose CEO is among the top ten best-compensated in the US) has me working in a building in which every time it rains, the roof runs. (Not leaks, the water runs down in streams.) They keep trying to find bigger buckets.

We do have our own cubicles--made of what appears to be moldy cardboard—and they match the carpet exactly. We have nothing like a kitchenette or breakroom. If you want coffee, you have to go get water in the restrooms. Of course, the sinks are always overflowing because some stupid jerk empties the remainder of his breakfast mush, ramen, smelly fish stew, or whatever into them every day.

The lighting is typical 1950s era: harsh overhead fluorescents that would quickly blind you if you tried to work with a monitor under them. So we ask to have them turned off. They are glad to do this, because it saves on electricity bills. The drawback is that this leaves our environment utterly troglodytic ; the advantage is that we can't see our environment).

It could be worse, of course—I could have been working in the building that sank. No, it didn't sink completely—it's just sort of The Leaning Tower of Dallas. (Actually, it's in Irving, but who's heard of Irving?) The good thing is that they managed to get most of the people out (a triumph of organizational genius, considering that the sinking occurred in a mere decade), the bad news is they moved them in with us. Our warren of cubical cells is now so overcrowded that collision is a serious factor in deciding whether or not to go to the bathroom to make coffee.

Re:These people are SO out of touch (1)

colourmyeyes (1028804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358410)

Bravo; I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially the last bit about "deciding whether or not to go to the bathroom to make coffee."

Oh - puhleeez - I've worked in MUCH worse places (4, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357940)

For a summer I worked at Johns Manville in New Jersey. Yeah - the place that was sued into bankruptcy by its own workforce for being such a toxic shithole.

I worked in building D. D for DEATH. I had to unload a van filled with paper from banks. I'd get the truck weighed at the front gate, net to the sign that said "PHOTOGRAPHY IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN". Geee. I wonder why...

Once it was weighed, I'd drive it to building D, and back it up the ramp into the building itself. The building consisted of several ENORMOUS rooms, each one at least 50 ft wide and 30 ft tall. In the room I ws in was an enormous machine that looked like a cross between a cauldron designed by Rube Goldberg and a funnel designed by NASA. On the side of this thing was a hopper. I would dump paper out the back of the truck into the 6 inches of standing filthy water that filled the floor of the place. Often I could see the V shaped ripples of rats swimming through the smelly brown miasmic watery goo.

Against one wall was a stack of paper that went all the way to the roof, which had gaping holes in it. It was summer, and there was no air conditioning, and wearing a mask was very uncomfortable. But wear one I did, for as I looked down the hallway to the other end of building D, the air was thick with the blue haze of asbestos.

I would stand on the paper bales, and toss more paper into the hopper. Once it was full I'd signal the guy who operated it, Mike, and he would press a red button, and I would press a red button, and the hopper would lurch up the side of the vat, and dump the contents into the steaming smelling chemical bath of crap.

Out of the bottom of the vat was a pipe about 14 inches wide. A steady stream of really foul smelling waxy black ooze would slowly extrude from the pipe. Mike would hack at it with a Machete and it would plop into his wheel barrow. H would then wheel it down the hall to a drop point, where there was a 55 gal drum, and he would dump the stinking vile glop into the drum. Once the drum was full of the black gelatinous offal, he would cap it, crimp it, and seal it, where it would then be "take somewhere", likely some landfill near Newark or Edison or Sayreville.

Some of the people who worked there were practically feral. I remember one fat black guy who drove this miniature bulldozer around at a high rate of speed, splashing the filthy stanky water all over the place. He didn't care wher eit went.

My guess is that all those people who worked on site all day in building D are now dead. And that's industrial capitalism for ya. OF course, now we ship that kind of work to China or Indonesia, so we can't see it, so it's OK....

That was the worst place I ever worked.

RS

Re:Oh - puhleeez - I've worked in MUCH worse place (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358006)

I'm sorry, sir, but your entry is disqualified. The heading clearly says "Worst workplaces in tech". What you describe—though it involves fearful mechanical devices, noxious chemicals, unspeakable offal, reckless driving, and odious vermin—is not "tech" according to the conventional notion applied here on SlashDot. How many computers did your "workplace" have, eh?

Now, if I had known that non or low-tech workplaces were eligible, I might have trotted out some of my more lurid mini-careers (such as repainting cans of Agent Orange for the U.S. Forest service so that people wouldn't know what we were using to keep the roads clear...this was the same "workplace" in which my supervisor set my boots on fire with a drip-torch while I was wearing them, but that would be no more germane than your entry.

Re:Oh - puhleeez - I've worked in MUCH worse place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358094)

I'm sorry, sir, but your entry is disqualified. The heading clearly says "Worst workplaces in tech". What you describe--though it involves fearful mechanical devices, noxious chemicals, unspeakable offal, reckless driving, and odious vermin--is not "tech" according to the conventional notion applied here on SlashDot. How many computers did your "workplace" have, eh?

I couldn't beat that story, but mine is at least a tech environment:

6-7 developers in a ~100 square foot freight elevator room with no windows, along with a giant electrical transformer which hummed constantly and loudly for the year we spent in the room. On a few days, something toxic would waft up from the lower level and we would get high on the fumes. Hours were long, stress was high. On one lovely rainy day the parking lot flooded badly and we had to wade through two feet of murky water to get to our cars. Insulation was poor, with temperatures in the room going over 90F at some points in the summer. In the winter, it was cold enough some days that we tried coding with gloves on.

This is during the development of an enterprise application responsible for millions of dollars of business every day for a Fortune 100 company.

What is this? (0, Flamebait)

Derosian (943622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357946)

What is this Queer Eye for a Tech Guy? Since when do techies care about work decor?

old, Digg (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357960)

/. is a little behind it seems...? Saw this on Digg earlier this evening.

Yes, OT.

The worst places... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357982)

For me, the worst places are a lack of natural daylight (either an open plan office layouts where the window blinds were kept closed to stop the programmers from being distracted), or private cubicle rooms with no windows. Not having seniority to have a window meant you didn't have seniority to see any daylight during Winter.

Some open plan offices have sound dampening systems; loudspeakers that play white noise at a low level. You couldn't hear them, but you couldn't hear the person three desks away either.

Noise is definitely a major factor. The worst environment I had was to have someone from sales/marketing two desks away, constantly shouting down the telephone line to remote customers.

Consider yourself lucky, if you have partition walls you can decorate, natural sunlight, a window you can open/close, a quiet room shared with maybe one or two other people. Having a cafeteria with a choice of ethnic meals is also a bonus.

Re:The worst places... (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358080)

Some open plan offices have sound dampening systems; loudspeakers that play white noise at a low level. You couldn't hear them, but you couldn't hear the person three desks away either.

I once stayed in a Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge in Pittsburg that had piped-in noise. At each corridor intersection or bend, there was a speaker. But it wasn't white noise. It was machinery noise - a faint background of whirr, chunka chunka, hiss, whirr, clank. At first I thought someone had just left a microphone open somewhere, but after three days, I realized it had to be intentional. Maybe heavy industry people find it peaceful.

That's very Pittsburgh. I was visiting some robotics people at CMU, and they had desks in a room with a big air compressor. Every ten minutes or so, the air compressor would start, run for about thirty seconds, and shut down with a big hiss. It was too noisy to talk over, so everyone just waited until it stopped. No effort had been made to muffle the thing. This was accepted as normal.

Re:The worst places... (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358380)

Where I work now, too much light from the windows is a problem because it washes out the displays. I prefer to work in windowless buildings, although it is nice to have a break room that has windows.

Our cubicles do a reasonable job of dampening noise.

"Consider yourself lucky, if you have partition walls you can decorate, natural sunlight, a window you can open/close, a quiet room shared with maybe one or two other people. Having a cafeteria with a choice of ethnic meals is also a bonus."

Yes partition walls are nice; I don't really decorate them, I use them as an extension of my desktop. I like them because of the additional privacy and noise isolation. I just hope for enough power for when I have to build servers on my desk. I have popped circuit breakers.

Natural sunlight is not always a Good Thing. None of the buildings that I would work in would have windows that open; and this is a Good Thing. Very few people have the luxury of a semi-private office, and they can be a major problem if you have problems with your office mate. Cafeterias very seldom do well with ethnic meals anyway.

Oh god did my monitor go invisable? (1)

Ogre840 (1233316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358002)

Those cubicles at Yahoo! NY are the exact same kind REI "upgraded" to a couple years ago during a remodel of the call center. They wanted it to "match" our Headquarters more (from what I hear though, they have much better offices and it's not all gray.) I hate these cubes with a passion, I really miss our old set up here. Phone reps were set up back to back roughly, was a little louder, didn't seat as many people, but damn it was a much more fun place to be. At least I can still wear jeans for the time being...

Utilitarian is bad? (2, Interesting)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358016)

Since when is utilitarian a bad thing? I think the lists should be swapped. I can't work with a laptop and papers on couch in bright sun with other people sharing that same space and jabbering on and on with no barriers to sound.

If you don't like a gray cube wall, put something on it! And why are desks and privacy walls the enemy?

Maybe if you're in sales, you'll like the open architectures and bright colors, but all I want is to have the equipment I need to do my job properly.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358030)

I've worked at Microsoft for 14 years, andthe only picture in the set that even slightly resembles Microsoft's corporate campus appears to be of some sort of conference room; there are a couple in there that appear to have been taken at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle.

There *are* pockets of Microsoft that are Dilbert-esque cubeland, and there are some buildings where space is tight and some people have to double (or triple) up in an office...but most people on campus get their own office with a door and a generous amount of space. Seniority gets you first dibs on office space (and not having to double up) in the event of team moves...one of the *only* perqs you get for length-of-service (the "signed" card from Bill Gates and the service award trophy being the only other one I can think of. Whoopee!)

Wierd Silicon Valley workspaces (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358048)

Intel is famous for their workspaces. They pioneered cubicles in the early 1970s. They have some of the world's biggest single-room cube farms. They actually built new buildings, from the ground up, with 1-acre rooms of tiny grey cubicles. Vast amounts of money were spent to create this Dilbertland. The cubicles are so tiny that two people cannot physically sit in one and talk; one has to sit out on the aisle and block traffic. They look like library carrels. This isn't a call center; it's where their engineers work.

Klutz Press has a "fun workspace" - the partitions are made out of corrugated sheet metal. The building (a warehouse) is made of corrugated sheet metal. Lots of toys in the reception area.

Softimage LA went through a period where everything, including partitions, was curved and on wheels. You could fold up the cubicle of someone who was out and push it to the side.

Sony Pictures Imageworks, an animation shop, is a typical cube farm surrounded by offices. Except for the art department, which has a big open space with drawing boards.

Silicon Valley law firms tend to have rocks. Big rocks. Polished stone surfaces. Rock gardens. And, for some reason, glass-enclosed conference rooms. Traditional law firms used to go in heavily for wood paneling, but the "high tech" law firms wanted a more modern look. The overall effect is upscale mall, but whatever.

bullpen is the new office (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358086)

We all knew bullpen style would become standard, but who thought it would go as unnoticed as it is? You'd think bullpen style was always standard based on the writing.

Could be worse (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358128)

You could be working at a company you were moved twice in one year, had your stapler taken away, be forced by your boss to share your cube with storage that takes up almost all of your space, have your paycheck suddenly stop coming, and finally be moved to the basement with the cockroaches.

false (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358150)

Think what you like about MSFT, the work spaces are pretty sweet. Even the interns get their own actual office - with doors, some even with windows. I've never seen a single cubicle there, ever, in any building. This is such a bizarre article; I don't even think some of those workspaces are even that bad. It looks like they try to pass off an information kiosk as work area for the Google one...

Microsoft? Really? (1)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358152)

I've been through the Microsoft campus before. It's a really nice workplace- and that was the old building. I even got a free can of "Windows Vista" to drink.

But seriously, whoever wrote this article must work in some sort of golden castle atop a cloud. They need to go visit a the IT department of a financial institution every once in a while to "keep it real".

WTF? No pictures? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358208)

This has got to be the lamest article in a long time. It keeps alluding to pictures, but doesn't show them. Sometimes it doesn't even describe the pictures. The only picture the article has is of a guy laying back, possibly sleeping, in his cubicle.

Re:WTF? No pictures? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358238)

You need to temporarily disable NoScript.

Re:WTF? No pictures? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358312)

Thanks. I guess there can be pictures. The article is still worthless though.

What can I say? (1)

BrianRagle (1016523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358300)

I work support for a MAJOR cable news station. I can't really complain about my space at all. I have a corner area, about roughly the size of 4 typical cubes but completely open, and surrounded on two sides by windows. My personal area has an Apple cinema display for my Mac, with two side displays for my Ubuntu and XP boxes. I have a phone which no one except our call center can call into and complete admin rights on the network, even equal to the system admins. My security badge gets me into practically every area of the building and I regularly get to hang out and converse with not only the On Camera Talent, but various cool people who make it all happen. What can I say?

Give me a fscking break! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358324)

Let's see -- I've swept and mopped floors, had to clean sticky garbage out of trash cans with my bare hands, emptied box cars and tractor trailers, alternately in freezing and stiflingly hot weather, repaired autos (carbon monoxide poisoning anyone? How about a nice shower of rust particles in your eyes, or gasoline running down your arm?), cleaned dirty, oily water out of elevator shafts, etc. etc. And that's not including some farm work in Texas in the summer helping out my uncle and grandparents. And these aren't even the worst jobs.

Lava lamps in the workplace make it look like a kindergarten? Boo fucking hoo!

Really ? (2, Insightful)

MarkKnopfler (472229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358390)

Really ? That is how we have decided that the mentioned work places are the worst to work in ? A few random photographs of the workplaces ? This must be one of the worst excuses for a 10 list that I have seen.
The workplace/cube is certainly one of the ways to measure the top-ness (sic) of a workplace but just that ? Come on people, we all know that there are a lot of things which into making a great workplace. The dimensions and colour of your cubicle is probably just one of them.

Yahoo New York? (4, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358426)

The hot chick on the phone automatically eliminates it from the list.

Lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358506)

Am I the only person who doesn't care about my workspace at work? I don't care what the office looks like, as long as I have:

  • Tools necessary to get my job done
  • Reasonable comfort
  • Few distractions

I'll take "utilitarian and boring" over distracting every time. I don't want to linger at work. I want to work my 8 hours a day and then leave. If my employer wants to give out perks, they can give me a raise, increase their 401K match, give out more vacation time, give more paid holidays, etc.

Non-Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358556)

I'm sorry but what?


Most of these pictures show very little of the actual working conditions (nothing at all in the case of Adobe), and of the few actual workspace pictures I saw only a couple looked truly BAD. Most of them seemed quite nice (very few people at my last office had multiple monitors, and even more rare was having two of the same monitors... it looked awful). I don't see piles of broken down/disused parts, boxes being used as furniture, and entire rooms dedicated to containing "misc. clutter" like where I have worked.


Having said that, I would be highly embarrassed if I was a Mozilla employee. That place looks utterly awful.

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