Ted Dewan is an artist who does roadwitching – reclaiming streets for humans from automobiles. His presentation on this was one of the highlights at EuroGEL and he recently sent me these wonderful thoughts on how we can reclaim our workplaces:
Reclaiming the workspace is something I attempted during my two summers in a cubicle. I made a little ‘fort’ out of my cubicle elements, and alas, this was frowned upon on ‘health and safety’ grounds (the cubicle elements were 1970’s leftovers, all purple brown and orange and round…90 degree arcs. They were seriously cool cubicle elements which were thrown away in 1983 and replaced with square grey ones that were higher and difficult to peer over. What a shame–they’d be very much sought after now as sort of groovy retro office furniture, although they probably went up in flames in a second due to the old foam.
Anyhow, I think going beyond posting Dilbert cartoons is the way forward in cubicle land. Some choice in cubicle arrangement and design was for me the most important way of introducing a bit of happiness into my environment back then.
That costs, though, and part of the pleasure of Roadwitching is just how cheap it is. One of my mottos is ‘with nothing, everything is possible’.
One thing that might be fun is renegade meeting rooms. I once heard of a group that set a meeting table up in a parking spot (they were meeting to plan Roadwitch-like activities) and they found the experience envigorating and it helped their thinking as a result. It might be a bit distracting, but depending on the sort of meeting, it’s worth a try I suppose. I’d test it first before offering it as paid-for advice, of course!
I like it! Just as most streets have lost all their humanity to the demands of the automobile, so many workplaces have lost their human touch to a desire for sameness, efficiency and professionalism. It’s a shame, because it makes people less efficient.
Stay tuned for a post on great examples of great design in the workplace that allows people to work more efficiently AND have more fun.