Other People’s Offices

Via The Paris Review: Paul Barbera’s “Where They Create” provides photos of “studios and work spaces of artists and writers” and he recently photographed The Paris Review offices (example above).

I am the kind of person who likes looking at the interiors of other people’s apartments (usually via the Times real estate section), but looking at all these work spaces is fascinating as well.

When You’re the Know-it-all at Work

What do you do if you’re afraid that you’re coming off as a condescending know-it-all at work? Should you try to act “dumber”? Karla Miller who runs @Work Advice at The Washington Post says know-it-alls shouldn’t act dumber—they should be “strategically generous”:

They ask questions instead of spitting out answers: What do you think? Does anyone have a different idea? What if we tried this instead?

They recognize that everyone has a contribution: Great point, and I’d like to build on that by adding … Let me defer to Eloise on that topic.

They dissent politely: I see where you’re coming from, but I think …

They acknowledge vulnerabilities: I sometimes struggle with expressing myself tactfully.

They apologize as needed: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be brusque.

They laugh at themselves: Whoops, I had a Sheldon Cooper moment there. Bazinga!

At a previous job, someone who built a reputation for being a know-it-all and interrupting colleagues at work was simply told, “Stop interrupting people while they’re in the middle of talking—it’s rude.” He apologized, and consciously made an effort to stop himself from correcting people while they were talking. It’s the thought that counts.

Office Seating Arrangements

Mr. Waber says a worker’s immediate neighbors account for 40% to 60% of every interaction that worker has during the workday, from face-to-face chats to email messages. There is only a 5% to 10% chance employees are interacting with someone two rows away, according to his data, which is culled from companies in the retail, pharmaceutical and finance industries, among others.

Want to befriend someone on another floor? Forget it. “You basically only talk to [those] people if you have meetings,” Mr. Waber says.

Some companies, especially tech companies, like to mix up the seating arrangements of their employees every few months to shake things up and have everyone collaborate with each other more. This was not so successful at a startup I used to work for, which liked to move me away from my editorial team and seat me next to, say, a programmer who was too busy building systems to talk to me. I had to get up a bunch of times a day to have some face time with my team (which I actually didn’t mind so much—it’s good to have an excuse to get up and stretch). How are seating arrangements decided where you work?

Photo: Peter Van De Linde

Solutions to Everyday Problems at the Office: The Disgusting Fridge

There is no room in the office refrigerator for your lunch because it's full of your coworkers old lunches. Send an email to everyone in the office with the subject line, "Our refrigerator is disgusting" and in the body of the email write, "What should we do about it?"

Coworkers Who Steal Your Lunch

From The Salt: Etiquette Hell is a website that has documented more than 6,000 first-hand bad etiquette accounts, and the most frequent complaint is about "fridge theft." Apparently, it is also a major issue at NPR!

A Productive Day at the Office?

I find that I'm most productive when I'm working at the office rather than from home or from a coffee shop, but the reason for that might be less because it's a work setting, and more because there are fewer distractions there (often, I'm the only one there).

Two Weeks Notice

All I had to do was quit my job and move on. But for whatever neurotic reason I had, the thought of asking for a meeting with my boss to tell him that I was leaving terrified me.

Office Perks Not Used

• The Xbox in the conference room (seriously who has the time to play a meaningful game of anything?)

One Company’s Productive Work Set-up

In the early '90s, a Dutch insurance company wasn't doing so well and hired McKinsey, the famous consulting firm, to come in and help them. Layoffs followed, nothing changed, and so the company turned to a design consultant named Erik Veldhoen to help them.

What Happens When One of Your Coworkers Dies

The first thing that happens is someone tells you.

Solutions to Everyday Problems at the Office: The Forbidden Workplace Crush

You have a crush on a person you work with—who is not single.

Will Work for Food

"Bob," he says. "If you stay late tonight to work, you can order dinner and expense it."