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How Much Do You Value Your Office Space?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the elbow-room-vs-cold-hard-cash dept.

Businesses 165

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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Google and Me (5, Interesting)

komodo9 (577710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683405)

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 (2, Insightful)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683500)

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.

Re:Google and Me (1)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683978)

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 when assigning cubicles or office space. An office has to provide a benefit to the employer in the end.

Re:Google and Me (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684044)

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!

Re:Google and Me (1)

Rob_Warwick (789939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684063)

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 (2, Insightful)

Flounder (42112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684289)

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 (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685643)

Wow, Flounder is modded Insightful! That's even funnier than his/her comment! :-)

Re:Google and Me (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683888)

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. :-)

Re:Google and Me (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683910)

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.

Re:Google and Me (1)

CthulhuDreamer (844223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685013)

My last job put my cubicle in between the sales dept call center and the collections dept phone center. The volume level was so high I would go hide in the server room if I needed to actually work on anything. I've never seen an office that was so designed to prevent people from working.

Our company used offices to soothe and build egos. Sales insisted on window seats for their marketing drones, so veteren employees were pushed out of their window spots to interior cubicles as marketing hired new people. Offices were reserved for managers, so a dozen offices would sit empty while the IT and Accounting departments were crammed into the last few cubicles by the call centers. They would rather see the space go unused than someone with the wrong job title sitting in them. (You really knew your place in the company when they tell you to pack and move because the new intern wants your spot.)

Re:Google and Me (3, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14686367)

After you move to the basement, if you could could go ahead and get a can of pesticide and take care
of the roach problem we've been having, that would be great.

Re:Google and Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14686000)

So in short, you need a conductive workspace, of which offices are only one type. :-)

That must be my problem this winter, what with the dry air, the carpet floor and the plastic desktop. It's all so...insular.

Re:Google and Me (3, Insightful)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683916)

i think this is the most productive setup, unless you're rooming with someone you can't stand.

Re:Google and Me (5, Insightful)

Tadrith (557354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683945)

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 (1, Funny)

lucm (889690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684036)

This is why I got my RTFM coffee mug. For a while each time someone asked me a question out of stupidity I would take a sip and point to the mug. Works like a charm.

If you don't know what RTFM stands for, then... RTFM!

Re:Google and Me (3, Funny)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14686339)

each time someone asked me a question out of stupidity I would take a sip

I couldn't possibly drink that much :-)

Re:Google and Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14684948)

My team uses my office as an ad-hoc meeting room and I sit on a desk somewhere outside. It's more important for everybody to have an extra meeting room close than for me to have my office.

Re:Google and Me (2, Interesting)

luvirini (753157) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685040)

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 (3, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685081)

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"

Re:Google and Me (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685308)

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 latest sports news, if your monitor is in plain view of another coworker.

But it's not like I'm completely closed off from everyone. We all regularly walk the halls to have discussions, as necessary. And instant messaging is always useful too. Finally, I find that those with offices near things like the kitchen or bathroom, tend to have the most hallway conversations. It's easy to just pop your head in and ask a question, on the way back from getting a soda or something.

Cost is way lower, differential cost is even less! (4, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683412)

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.

Re:Cost is way lower, differential cost is even le (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683575)

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 average per-employee cost. By merely moving someone to a cubicle, a company only shaves the tiniest fraction of that off (personal lighting and possibly a bit of HVAC overhead).


So, the delta cost to a company for you to have a cube vs. an office

Bingo! You've got the key idea... While my absolute physical-space cost may come out to $10K or more per year, I'll take up the vast majority of that whether you give me a 12x20 private office with a view, or an 8x8 half-height cubicle in the basement.

Re:Cost is way lower, differential cost is even le (2, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683795)

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 foot. At less than 200 square feet per employee (10 x 10 office plus shared space), that comes out to less than $6k. There are plenty of less expensive places in the Bay Area (although San Francisco is more expensive).

Want an office with crystal ocean views? (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683995)

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] .

Re:Want an office with crystal ocean views? (1)

Yakman (22964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684064)

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.

No, that's for ten of them... (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684751)

...the AUD$120,000 is per each.

Nearly halfway to Broome. Good tourism into the Pilbara, too (Karajini, Wittenoom etc, and you can dig around in Wyloo Station's amethyst mine).

Re:Want an office with crystal ocean views? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685636)

I know, how central! 500+ miles to a capital city which happens to be the most isolated city on the planet.

Re:Cost is way lower, differential cost is even le (2, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683801)

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 need a desk, office or cube)

Re:Cost is way lower, differential cost is even le (4, Insightful)

wtansill (576643) | more than 8 years ago | (#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...

Re:Cost is way lower, differential cost is even le (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14684269)

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.


Yet, they love to Off Shore jobs to India, where they REALLY can't see the workers.

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.

No everyone's jobs involve useless meetings. Check out any Dilbert cartoon- meetings just get in the way of getting stuff done.

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.

How is that bad? I don't have a manager micro-managing me, and can actually get more work done. I can work days I wouldn't other wise (sick days, etc). I can put in partial days, or even do overtime or on-call shifts a lot easier.

How is this bad?

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

Great!! I'd love the overtime! And the on-call pay!! And if I didn't want to be bothered, I'd not answer the phone.

it depends (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683662)

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.

Re:Cost is way lower, differential cost is even le (2, Funny)

eric76 (679787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684571)

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.

Maybe $10? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Maybe $10? (1)

Finnegar (918643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683613)

I've put mine up on the shelf with all the other DVDs. Oh, wait...

Re:Maybe $10? (2, Funny)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684166)

They can have my Office Space when they unwrap my cold, dead fingers off of the DVD!!

BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Why? (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683423)

What are you offering?

hmmmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14683445)

What is this "out the window" that you speak of?

Office Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14683450)

I would sell my soul for an office. While in a convenient world everyone can colaborate together yadda yadda yadda, but in reality, most people are stinky, loud, and distracting. I would easily give up 5K in salary to get an office...

Re:Office Space (2, Insightful)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684752)

Yah, seriously what is WITH these article submitters lately? First there was the guy that had a dream job and wanted to know if he should quit to work at some startup with a pay cut - and now THIS crap.

EARTH TO "REASON": You've " made it " and have ARRIVED at where most of us would LIKE TO BE!! Why in the world would you give up a private office for a lousy extra five grand, you MORON!?

Re:Office Space (2, Insightful)

alxkit (941262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685787)

hey now, how can you call him a moran when you don't know what is going on in his life? Money talks foo. Extra 5K a year can buy a boat load of mac and cheese or at least a good meal now and then. and if reason has kids - a few presents so the shorties are happy. so please, have a cup of reality and grow up.

most != all (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685896)

where most of us would LIKE TO BE
Why in the world would you give [it] up?

I think you answer that question yourself--most != all.

Lots! (4, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 8 years ago | (#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'. =)

Re:Lots! (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14686112)

When I was 17, I worked for a factory that made shoe soles. They wanted a small production control system writing, and they didn't have much money, so approached the local college.

The coding had to be done on a computer which was kept in the same room as the coffee area. People walking in and making coffees wasn't the worst thing.

The worst thing would have been the machine used for testing the strength of the compounds. Kept away from the factory for being too noisy. How do you test the strength of the compounds? You make a stiletto heel and put it in a special machine that hits it repeatedly with a hammer until it breaks, at which point the counter stops. Imagine trying to code with that going on?

Work from home (1)

mikeleemm (462460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683459)

Many companies are also encouraging or even almost forcing work from home or mobile locations. Personally it's a nice option, but would rather not be doing that everyday.

Re:Work from home (1)

Dmala (752610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684448)

I would kill to do that everyday. We had a nice telecommute policy where I work, until the CEO decided to nix it one day. The only reason we were given was that "there wasn't enough buzz in the office." Now the buzz is "get us the hell out of here."

I'd almost forego a raise for the solitude (3, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683501)

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.

I'm not sure if I could put a value on it (5, Insightful)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm not sure if I could put a value on it (3, Interesting)

jobugeek (466084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684802)

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.

This is an interesting question (4, Insightful)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

usrusr (654450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683525)

> 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.

What office space, you insensitive clods?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14683533)

I work shifts, so there is no concept of personal space. What little space I have during my shift is shared with the next shift.

Ironically, my "image of the day" prior to posting is "infects." What a great way to describe our shared keyboards, mice, and phones at work!

Take my cube, Please! (1)

mykey2k (42851) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683538)

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

EXACTLY!!! (1)

losycompresion (711973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684374)

EXACTLY!!! They already pay for my high speed net and pay for some 60% of my phone, in addition to the blackberry(to be replaced with something else if BB is shutdown) Why not just let me work from home a few days a week, the only time I have to be in the office is for tuesday meetings! As the parent said, I'd be happy with saving the travel expenses. I would stay on IM all day so the boss can "check up" on me anytime he feels like, if they felt the need to.

Re:Take my cube, Please! (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684854)

I'd rather work at the office. If I worked at home, my wife would be bugging me all day to do all kinds of crap around the house... I'd never be productive!

$10K? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683559)

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!

Depends on the office... (2, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Depends on the office... (1)

karlto (883425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684321)

I don't consider office space as part of my salary [...]

I think this is an important distinction - I somehow doubt an employer will pay you more if you ask to install a cheaper server. Most business expenses are a careful balance between cost and getting the job done right.

Office Space (1)

seawall (549985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683622)

It has been both a boon: My current office is near my co-workers, has a window, a view and a door. I can have meetings in here, I can look at stuff for my job that is confidential. I leave my door open most of the time. I can lock the door and be fairly sure my equipment and papers will be undisturbed and, if they are, there are a limited number of people I have to hunt down to get my external backup drive back. Just the sunlight alone makes it worthwhile. About half of a chronic decade-long depression lifted. Please note I spent a decade and a half in (literally) offices made out of bathrooms and closets to get here.

They mostly were horrible: My first office isolated me from other grad students and probably had more to do with not finishing postgraduate education than anything. If my personality had been different, maybe, but I was a heavy isolater at the time.

Most of my offices were not helpful: too grim (converted bathrooms and closets mostly), too isolation prone, too depressing.

Formal office or no, a depressing space will get to you after awhile. It may take a month, it may take 5 years, but it isn't worth doing that to yourself!

Re:Office Space (1)

t0qer (230538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685683)

I can look at stuff for my job that is confidential.

  You mean stuff like porn?

Don't forget the "More Important" factor (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683632)

I have my own office. The office next to me is 30% smaller yet 3 people share it. Why? Because I'm "more important."

Re:Don't forget the "More Important" factor (4, Informative)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684078)

Really,

my take would be they'd rather share a small office together than be stuck with you.

Re:Don't forget the "More Important" factor (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685794)

yeah? well maybe I prefer it that way too. I wouldn't want to be in the same office with them either... :D

Per Square Foot (3, Funny)

CokeJunky (51666) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:Per Square Foot (4, Funny)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683967)

Let me get this straight. They gave you a raise, and offered a bigger office, so you... quit?

Re:Per Square Foot (4, Informative)

cameldrv (53081) | more than 8 years ago | (#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%.

Re:Per Square Foot (1)

frn123 (242374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685695)

That kinda depends where you live. In lots of places its Euro * m^2 / month

Re:Per Square Foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14684686)

Uh, dude, commercial space is priced in $/ft.year, not $/ft.month.

Re:Per Square Foot (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685148)

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?

Better to keep the flow going... (3, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 8 years ago | (#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).

Re:Better to keep the flow going... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14684805)

I've been in four offices. None had windows or natural light. You should probably qualify your statement.

Completely open plan (1)

harryman100 (631145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683647)

I used to work for a large multinational "everything" company, and I was lucky enough to start work, shortly after they'd moved into their brand new UK head office. The design of the building was completely open plan(dividers between desks were no higher then a monitor). No-one had an office, not even the MD. All the meeting rooms were glass walled (on at least one side. But actually I got a lot more done than if I'd have had my own office*, or even shared an office.

You had a very good feel for exactly what was going on within the department (120 people), and building. Especially within your own team. You could hear every conversation that went on. Surprisingly it's not that distracting. Because of the levels of noise you learnt to live with it, and block it out, consequently you could keep track of the world, and get on with work. I think had I been in a more secluded environment, I would have spent a lot more time browsing.

They had a quiet room where you could get away from all the people who came to see you/called you etc. And meeting rooms for anything more than a quick discussion.

In all honesty, having worked in that type of environment - office space really isn't a factor that bothers me. I currently work from home part time (student the rest of the time) - and I don't get any more or less work done than I did then. It would nice to have a more social working environment - but as I'm the only dev for the company, that's not possible.

(*Note, I was a placement student, I never would have had my own office anyway!)

Re:Completely open plan (1)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685004)

You, sir, obviously aren't ADD. I work in a call center and was until just recently working on a special project amongst all the agents. I was turning around every couple minutes to see who was walking by me (because I can't NOT look) or having to answer a question from an agent, or overhearing a conversation and getting drawn into it.... Quiet = GOOD. I'm so thankful that I finally got moved to a secluded area with near-ceiling height cube walls.

Offices (2, Interesting)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

The space to store all of the TPS reports (1)

Joe123456 (846782) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683681)

The space that it takes store all of the TPS reports it what eats up most of the space.

Offices may cost less (2, Interesting)

hakan2000 (945918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683683)

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 that there's more noise isolation and less distractions. Some people say cubes encourage 'brainstorming' or 'collaboration', which I think is total bs. You can always go to someone else's office, take a few of colleagues with you, shut the door, and collaborate all you want without distracting anybody. Finally, you can deny it all you want but everyone takes care of personal business at work. A simple phone call to your doctor which would take a few minutes of your time from your office becomes a 'task': find an empty conference room, (maybe you need to reserve it too), go to the conference room, etc etc, effectively costing more for your company.

We're only as good as the air we breathe (1)

Mr. Samuel (950418) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683702)

In other words, our environment impacts our potential (as has been previously alluded to). I've experienced a shared cubicle and it definitely wouldn't be my preference. All of us appreciate some personal space and privacy, right?

And is it just me, or does trading compensation for a superior work environment seem wrong? Ultimately the employer will be better off assuming that production improves.

Keep your office if at all possible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14683779)

You could be lucky like some of us to finally get an individual office to soon lose it to an "open floor plan", to "encourage communication amongst teams".

I'm sorry, but most software developers don't want to listen to chatter, and we don't want to come out of our dark offices and interact with someone.

I would happily trade $2k of my annual salary for a quiet office. My sanity is worth that $2k.

Office Space!? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14683834)

Has anybody seen my red stapler?

Re:Office Space!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14684364)

Kudos, I'm surprised this hadn't popped up already.

How much do I value my office space? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683865)

I'm writing this from my office at 8:38 GMT-5. I guess I must frikin' love it!

Actual office space costs from a business owner. (3, Informative)

SlashChick (544252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683886)

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.

Re:Actual office space costs from a business owner (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684707)

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!

Do your math properly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14683929)

Sure it's 10K for an office. But how much is it for a cubicle?

Having an office means you can close the door and not hear the noise outside, and concentrate on stuff without having to buy headphones and make yourself deaf. So developers should get office space - easier for them to think.

Sales people don't - they should be at the customer's office ;).
Big bosses need them so they can have private closed door meetings with X number of important people at anytime without having to walk here and there to some meeting room. Plus its a symbolic thing - they're public figures.

Accompanying question.... (1)

ezratrumpet (937206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683943)

Is the distribution of office space an indication of how much an employer values you;simply a matter of seniority and space-mongering; or an unpredictable combination of those and other factors?

Office space (1)

joshsnow (551754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14683961)

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 three configurations; Financial, corporate or legal. Legal tends to have the most space per person and more individual space and trading the least.

Check the website linked above, click through accommodation, space plans and choose a floor to see an example of this.

All of the offices I've worked in have been open plan and one of my past employers had a policy of everyone working in an open plan area regardless of rank within the organisation. So, in theory, the Chief Exec and the coding grunts had exactly the same facilities. I say in theory, because I never saw the Chief Exec in person and I suspect that senior management had their own open plan office for themselves and their admin staff.

The office I currently work in isn't great - it has faulty airconditioning, exposed block walls old desks and chairs etc. However, that's OK because the company isn't about glamourous good looks, or employee creature comfort.

Happy to share (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14684164)

I work in a fairly large office with two other people and lots of media related gear. The three of us cover all media related events and equipment (including around 60 electronic classrooms) on a small liberal arts college campus.

We each have our specialties, but I'd say that 60% of the work that each of us does could be done by any of us. When the batphone rings, any one of us answers it, and any one of us can respond if it is an "emergency."

If we didn't share an office, we would constantly be going back and forth between offices to discuss things. In my case colaboration makes for a much better work environment.

some links (2, Interesting)

BillAtHRST (848238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684196)

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 -- one desk, two PC's, two chairs. Can you guess how productive either of us were?
- Another time, the co. I was consulting for (independent this time) had just finished remodeling their offices, and of course as soon as that was done, they had run out of space. So, they moved all the "consultants" (read, those who actually did real work) into desks strung out along a hallway. Every other person who walked by ended up kicking the back of my chair (not on purpose, at least I dont think so), but it made for a very frustrating experience. Productivity was even less than the "one desk, two people" scenario described above -- after getting jostled a few times, it was necessary to go for a walk outside to vent some steam.

Is personal space at work needed? (1)

Mechamse (515842) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684306)

I think this is a good questions we have to ask ourselves.

General speaking, most people like it. They like to customize their work space to suit their personality. Why? so your comfortable at work? but why? Your there to work not to sit back and relax. Sure, having a positive environment is a must, but at what cost? If you can't work in a can, find another job. I work in a cube, and am moving soon into an office with another person. This isn't an improvement for me. I will not have a window now, which my cube gave me. I'm also expected to reduce the amount of stuff I have (hard for my job) and use a smaller space. But, I'm not going to look for another job, because I don't need these things to be productive. I don't want to be comfortable at work. Sure, i have pictures and such up, but I don't want to be here longer than I need to, and not having the distractions of comfort, I'm more driven to complete stuff, so I can move on. There is nothing that i keep around that will distract me from my work.

my 2 cents...

Office? What is this office of which you speak? (1)

The evil non-flying (947059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684441)

I get 2 sq ft and I have to share it with a spock ear wearing intern. And my boss has made it clear that if I complain once he'll outsource my job faster than you can say "management bonus."

Note: the above is a lame attempt at humor. My actual work area is about 50 sq ft and I rarely have guys in spock ears sitting on my lap (at least not at work).

Re:Office? What is this office of which you speak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14685634)

Thats not funny-haha , thats funny-queer

Why so expensive? (1)

ecloud (3022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14684549)

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 were built on day 1, fully amortized by now so that it doesn't cost any more? What if they didn't maintain them too much, leaving that to the employees? Each could be free to decorate it in any way that he likes. So the only ongoing cost would be the same air conditioning, electricity and rent for the whole building (if applicable), the same as it is with cubes.

Cubicles are promoted by managers who think they are good for corporate image, or communication between employees, or because they think employees are more likely to waste time if not being watched closely. So I don't buy this "saving money" bullshit. The fact is that introverts in intellectual positions will be better off with their own offices, and the gregarious types might be better off in one big room, with no barriers at all (although I do not understand how this helps them get their work done, personally). Cubicles are a half-measure designed to make everyone equally unhappy.

The only place that I worked that actually had offices, they were shared offices. Fortunately the noisy people were in one and the quiet people in another (just worked out that way - lucky me). They were threatening to tear down the walls to encourage communication, which was ridiculous since that very company had built those very walls itself a couple years before, so the cost would have been double (once to build, once to tear down). So obviously cost was not the issue.

You don't see professors at universities being forced to give up their offices. IMO an engineer is doing similar work, and should have similar accommodations.

I find that when I really need to concentrate, a cubicle just won't do, and I have to go find a room to hide in. (I like to talk to myself when solving tough problems.) In some places this has been very inconvenient.

$20k/year for me (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685110)

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 love my space (1)

dtdns (559328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685336)

I love the space I work in. From what I've heard, you could compare it to a Google type setup. I work in a room with five other people. We all have our own desks, we have windows to the outside along two walls, and we keep the overhead lights turned off during the day. Everyone has their headphones on most of the time while we're working. If someone needs help with anything, it's very quick to just ask the question to the room and someone will respond quickly without needing to get up and track someone down.

We also keep it fun if everyone if burned out after a few hours of coding (or designing... it's a web development production room, so we have many things going on). There is an electronic dart board, darth vader stand-up, and capt. Kirk on the door reminding people to keep it closed. We even keep a unicycle in the space for entertainment.

It can get distracting if you're the only one not burned out when everyone else wants to play, but usually the break is welcomed anyway.

Overall, I wouldn't give it up easily. You'd have to add 30% to my salary to make me take a private office away from the team.

The converse... (1)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685393)

If you're overdue for a raise, would getting an office make up for it?

My cubicle (2, Funny)

FullCircle (643323) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

i love my cube (1)

cosyne (324176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685602)

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't joking when I asked if I could do that, but he knows better than to argue.
However, I spend so little time in my cube that I probably would give it up for a small interior cube and few $k.

My office sucks (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685635)

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!

It depends on you and the situation (1)

Sux2BU (20893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14685782)

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 beneficial. If it's in a cube farm with people who are noisy or on the phone a lot it's probably going to drive down your productivity.

You might want to consider this from the company's prospective: how much do they value the benefits of giving you a private office. Most companies wouldn't dare pay that much for something without expecting some return from their investment. They might be expecting higher morale and loyalty to the company. They might expect you to be more productive. They might just expect their clients to take them more seriously because everyone has an office. Most businesses wouldn't dare spend that much money unless the expected benefit of a private office exceeds (or at least equals) the cost of the increased rent.

Cubes, bah (1)

KlausBreuer (105581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14686189)

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, but as a programmer/designer I'm not happy in it.

Besides, I tend to swear at my code ;)

So much... (1)

yetanothertechie (699283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14686433)

That I work at home as much as possible.

I can either sit here on my couch, laptop in my lap, my dog curled up next to me, the fireplace going, and have a nice view to the back yard where I can see the birds at the feeder - or sit in a cube. No contest..
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