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Reasonable Adjustments to the workplace

This week, following the big reveal of Google's new offices, an uptick in the working year caused by beginning of term/legislation/etc. and memories of how, when working from home, my cat used to cuff my mouse hand in a way that was simultaneously a purr-enabled wrist massage and a tummy tickle for him, I have been thinking about workplace adjustment. I need to think about this at work (yes I know, timscience, blah blah healthy and safety blah blah risk assessment) and the thought runs along these lines - what does this person need to work as well as they can? It's a useful exercise to do on yourself too, so today's poll is for the working bods among you. Those retired or out of the workplace for other reasons may wish to consider when they last were, respond as if their main activities were work or do what you will. Think out of the box, in the box, go to the comments below and enjoy!

Poll #1980233 Reasonable Adjustments

In order to acheive 110% productivity I need this adjustment to my workplace

Break out area containing cubby-holes, hidey holes, hammocks and nap zones
Soft play area so I can bang my head against the wall safely
An office cat (smaller offices may substitute a chinchilla)
An office honeyglider flock (I will happily write the guano risk assessment)
Roof garden/balcony garden/windowbox
Zip wire, ladder or chute access between floors
Punch bag you can gaffer tape photos to
Gym or exercise area (ideally with standing workstations)
Calming or chill-out area with lots of coloured lights and natural sounds
A zen room (empty white box)
I have a better idea and will say so below!

I already use this productvity aid at work:

Ergonomic adjustments like a chair, wrist rest, etc.
Temperature adjustments like a fan
Comfort adjustments like a cushion or cardigan
Computer programmes which help order tasks
Computer programmes which help force good workstation behaviour (enforced breaks etc.)
Tea, coffee or water breaks
Something else and it really helps my productivity
Something else and it really hinders my productivity
My productivity is already overclocked and needs reining in before it kills me

My working day is typically:

More hours than I spend sleeping
Fewer hours than I spend sleeping
About the same

I work at the weekends

Regularly because of flexi/work requirements with TOIL
Regularly because TOO MUCH WORK
Ehhh sometimes you need to that's life
Only when a rush is on/for special events/at certain times of the year
Never - they are sacrosanct!

Do you work out of work time?

Yes, I do my own projects - it keeps me fresh
Yes I volunteer - I like to be useful
Yes I run my own business in my spare time because I am a crazed workaholic
Yes I have children or other significant home commitments
No, downtime is precious
No, I am too tired/drained
No, I am too busy having fun
I wouldn't really call it work...

Do you wish there was more time to get everything done?


What gets you through the working day?

Productivity is:

A myth perpetrated by goverment to enable social control
A myth perpetrated by business to enable economic control
An inevitable outcome of our biosocial urges
Something which needs to slow down before habital destruction occurs
Damaging to our emotional/social/mental health
Supportive to our emotional/social/mental health
A philiosophical construct the world is outgrowing
Another thing I will say below

Today I am looking forward to:

Edited to add: I missed an answer on the "Do you work out of work time?" question which is WHAT IS OUT OF WORK TIME (thank you the academics in the room). Sorry - there's a comment below you can type YES at now. And I spotted the dreaded poll typo (they are sadly uncorrectable) - habital should be habitat. Also, there's a hint that people may feel that the poll is a bit office-y but I am also interested in other workplaces. Work outside? In a soft play area? In a pit full of kittens? Still interested. Go to the comments if the poll doesn't quite get to how your workplace/work/working practice supports or hinders your wellbeing. Thanks everybody your answers are great!


( 39 worms — Feed the birds )
29th Aug, 2014 08:35 (UTC)
And presumably, as I am checking LJ just 45 mins after starting work, my productivity levels are lower than they might be.
29th Aug, 2014 08:37 (UTC)
Wait, the article about the new Google offices is dated 2012.
(no subject) - cleanskies - 29th Aug, 2014 11:43 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mockduck - 29th Aug, 2014 12:37 (UTC) - Expand
29th Aug, 2014 08:53 (UTC)
I would need a tick box for "definitely not an office cat", tbh.
29th Aug, 2014 11:46 (UTC)
You had one for "something else and it definitely hinders my productivity"
29th Aug, 2014 10:44 (UTC)
I'm not sure about it achieving 110% productivity but I would really like somewhere with yoga/gym mats to stretch properly at work. Or a room with a digital piano in it - the power to the piano would need to be time limited to about 8 minutes so I could refresh my brain/ soothe my soul without getting caught up and becoming very unproductive.

I do a lot of music practice outside of work. I wouldn't really call this work - but a lot of people seem to think that I am very dedicated and that they could never do it and that I am "working very hard" on something.

Productivity is...often confused with other things like presenteeism/ overwork. One should be able, most of the time, to do one work to a high standard within your agreed hours.
29th Aug, 2014 11:47 (UTC)
There's a digital piano just over the road from our workplace, in the library. Friday is no headphones day! I may head over briefly in what remians of my lunch hour.
(no subject) - surliminal - 29th Aug, 2014 22:47 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cleanskies - 30th Aug, 2014 07:35 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - surliminal - 30th Aug, 2014 15:07 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shermarama - 30th Aug, 2014 22:33 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cleanskies - 1st Sep, 2014 07:08 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shermarama - 1st Sep, 2014 07:15 (UTC) - Expand
29th Aug, 2014 11:01 (UTC)
I am out of the regular office employment kind of culture, so it was a bit hard to answer. I get paid regularly for half my time, but the actual work is either stuff I can do from home or it's face-to-face contact, where 'productivity' is not really relevant. I'm there, there is no switching off or idling down.
I tend to work funny hours, I keep funny hours anyway. So, I nearly always work weekends, I regularly work late at night, I not uncommonly do all-nighters, but I also have days and days (this summer weeks and weeks) of doing almost nothing at all. If I was more 'productive' I wouldn't work such stupid hours. Working in company definitely helps me to focus, but my work patterns are largely solo.
29th Aug, 2014 11:51 (UTC)
Do you have home office space then? I'm struggling with that a bit at the moment (flexible working includes home working) because it feels a bit like a home invasion!
(no subject) - blue_mai - 29th Aug, 2014 12:03 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cleanskies - 29th Aug, 2014 13:09 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blue_mai - 29th Aug, 2014 13:24 (UTC) - Expand
29th Aug, 2014 13:42 (UTC)
As you know continuous productive work is not really my thing. I do however wake up in the middle of the night with answers to design problems so in some sense I am at work 24 hours a day.
My idea of a productive environment is some kind of fully immersive VR suite where I switch from design to chatting with colleagues and friends to TV/reading/internet seamlessly. Challenges and problems (such as the jolt garden) would turn up and solutions would be proposed in a continuous interactive stream. Project managers would handle resource allocation and timing by some arcane scheme without involving money or accounting. Very much a post capitalism society. Too utopian?
29th Aug, 2014 15:29 (UTC)
Nothing is ever too Utopian.
29th Aug, 2014 20:10 (UTC)
My main productivity aid is a pair of Peltor ear defenders. Sadly they are now disintegrating after 4 1/2 years of use in our open plan office, haven't quite got the point of needing replacing. Other people listen to music but listening to music at work is something I have never got on with.
(I also have a nice adjustable chair - under our old regime I had an expensive one which got junked because of an idiotic directive that we couldn't take the ergonomic chairs but they had to be thrown into a skip instead - however the new company owner bought ones just as good for everyone)

As I have said elsewhere our office is quite pleasant (for an open plan office) and has a ridiculously large amount of space per person since it was leased for an expanding company which has instead contracted.

Whilst I ticked the 'never work at weekends' box I believe I have worked on a Saturday twice in the last 29 years. One of these two occasions was Princess Di's funeral, I could probably have thought of something else to do but didn't.
30th Aug, 2014 07:38 (UTC)
own the chair, own the worker
Yes, I'd say that counts as never at weekends
29th Aug, 2014 22:43 (UTC)
for question 5 you didn't have the academic answer at all, which should have been "what is out of work time! srsly...
I would KILL to work somewhere with chill out zones etc srsly again. instead I work somewhere with windows that get washed once a year, a view of a turbine, perennial building works opposite, heating that in winter is unturnndownable and printers that are always broken, out of toner, out of paper or all 3. Oddly, I mostly work at home.. (where there are cats!) and so does everyone else. I do miss having any kind of sociial life at work but after 3 years I'd much rather flee as fast as possible than try to create one.
30th Aug, 2014 07:40 (UTC)
a view of a turbine...
yes! I did miss that. Too bad you can't edit polls!

30th Aug, 2014 00:48 (UTC)
I work in the childcare industry and the personal fitness industry so my answers were a bit off-kilter--for instance, there are three cats present at one job, and the entirety of the other is a fitness facility with a garden and lots of tea and a "zen" atmosphere. I don't work outside of work because I can't, since I can't take the kids or my yoga students home with me, I leave work when I physically leave work. I don't work weekends but I may begin teaching yoga on weekends soon. Also, the word "productivity" has a different meaning for me when it comes to work because while there are a few things that need to be done, both of my jobs are more about filling a set length of time rather than completing tasks.
30th Aug, 2014 07:45 (UTC)
I guess as the nature of your workplaces is already focussed so strongly around wellbeing, wellbeing of staff must be integral in that. A three-cat workplace! Do they help people stay happy?
Re: interesting! - babybeluga2003 - 30th Aug, 2014 11:24 (UTC) - Expand
30th Aug, 2014 07:56 (UTC)
Extra write in question #1

(reply below with YES or similar)
30th Aug, 2014 08:15 (UTC)
While I'd love an office cat I'm pretty sure it would not help my productivity. "Now I shall write my scheme of work for this term OMG KITTON"
30th Aug, 2014 15:10 (UTC)
the more i think about this, the more i think my workplace might actually feel like somewhere designed for humans if there was an office cat. this idea has legs.. (or paws..)
30th Aug, 2014 22:50 (UTC)
The big thing I'd need in an ideal office is a switchable sound-filter field so that when I need to really concentrate, I can shut out the background sound of everything else. (Also a permanent lower-level sound-filter field so I never have to listen to anyone's crappy whistling; that's an instant brain-breaker for me whatever I'm trying to do.) I like the idea of the open-plan office and find it works well in some ways, getting that background sense of what your colleagues are up to plus being able to just wander over and ask someone about something, but I wish I didn't have to have playlists that are specifically designed to shut out the noise without causing me too much distraction. I like music too much to have to use it as wallpaper.

Oh, and, locally regulatable temperature. If it's less than about 24 degrees I'm going to end up with blue fingernails unless I get up and move around every so often, but some people think anything over 22 is stifling.
1st Sep, 2014 07:14 (UTC)
in search of non-distracting noise cancellation
I tried listening to pink noise (softer than white noise) but it's too close to tinnitus for comfort. I must confess also to sometimes doing a concentration hum when I'm on something tricky which is probably an annoying as the whistle.
31st Aug, 2014 17:44 (UTC)
I have repeatedly suggested an office cat, but jokingly. Too many people are allergic, and it's against the rules.
1st Sep, 2014 07:17 (UTC)
no cat would want to work in our office
I think that if cats rated offices as a living environment, we'd have them there already -- in fact, any office with a mouse problem may end up with a cat anyway

Edited at 2014-09-01 07:26 (UTC)
31st Aug, 2014 18:26 (UTC)
Many of the funky things people add to offices like ball pits and helicopter games and pool tables to make them funky strike me as ways to try to encourage to spend more time in the office because it is so funky they can't bear to leave the funkiness and go home to spend time with their boring old family and friends instead.

Now we are next door to an offices of a company with rituals like beer on Friday afternoons and a food room with baskets of food and cakes piled up to the ceiling (but no sink), and a shared Spottify playlist, my boss has felt obliged to do the same—which in my current state of overwork I find a bit annoying because it takes up time I have to then make up later as overtime.

In my limited experience, office dogs are far more common than office cats. I would guess this is because dog owners know how loveable and wonderful and adorable and cutesy wootsie woo their great dane/irish wolfhound cross rescue dog is and know no-one else could possibly object to having it lounging about in the office eating leftover pizza, whereas cat owners know their cat will have give them a hard stare if they suggest it would want to hang out in a as un-cat-friendly an environment as the typical office.
1st Sep, 2014 07:24 (UTC)
Yes, I think it's about locating office as home and colleagues as family, thereby expanding the zone of your life your workplace can call on -- nice when it's things you genuinely need (gyms, creches) annoying when it's a weak copy of things you already have/too much of (sugary snacks, music playlists)
1st Sep, 2014 20:38 (UTC)
I ticked the run my own business/workaholic thing but really I meant "work on my PhD." This is something that is ostensibly "optional" but in reality compulsory to my job. I don't have to do a PhD, but I am contractually obligated to research and will be bollocked if I don't perform. This is (mostly) supposed to be done within an allocated work time allowance but in reality occurs almost exclusively in my own time.

We're advertising for a full time bod on my course, if we get someone then my overwork nightmare will be eased... in theory.
Admittedly, I am in a bit of glum mood over work at the moment.

Oh, and the best way for me to get anything concrete done (barring teaching) is to work from home and not open my work email. That's my greatest productivity aid.

Edited at 2014-09-01 20:43 (UTC)
( 39 worms — Feed the birds )