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The View from Where You Are


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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 04:41 PM

[Something tells me that we used to have a thread like this. Anybody know the link?]

I've always enjoyed Andrew Sullivan's blog inclusion of his readers' views from where they are.

And I've been thinking a lot about my own view lately.

For the last several years, I have enjoyed working in what has been, really, my dream office.

My desk at Seattle Pacific has faced a floor-to-ceiling window with a beautiful view of a quiet courtyard. Japanese maples. Magnolia trees. Squirrels, hummingbirds, the occasional prowling cat. Bald eagles. Falcons (real falcons, not just SPU Falcons). Students rush by in lively parades every hour. Professors, some of whom instructed me in my college days, stroll by and wave and sometimes stop to say hello. In the winter, it's a chilly, enchanting scene. In spring, it's a celebration. You should see what happens in the autumn. It's like the Fourth of July.

It has been a view filled with beauty and spirit-lifting color and inspiration for my own writing.

It has also been a place to share movie posters with the students on campus. Movie publicists, knowing I had a display space on campus, would send me movie posters to display in the window to the constant parades of passers-by.

Well, it's the end of an era. The University Communications office is being remodeled over Christmas break. The remodel will be a very good thing for the team, I am sure. It will be a new open workspace, allowing teams to work together more efficiently and productively. And it will be much more aesthetically pleasing to my coworkers than the Cubicle Farm has been. (If things work out, I may even get to keep the standing-desk arrangement that has been a benefit to my health, my spine, and my sleep.)

But in the new world, my office is being replaced by a conference table.

I'll have a desk near the back of the office, facing a wall. No more friendly daily greetings from my professors. No more front-row, all-day vantage point on the heavens declaring the glory of God. I'm packing boxes and saying farewell to my dream desk. I now realize that I would rather look at this one familiar and ever-changing scene than have a big-screen TV with access to 1,000 channels.

I'm grateful for the years we had together, the SPU Weter Courtyard Ornamental Grass Garden and me. If weather and work cooperate, I'll make frequent trips with a lawn chair and a laptop computer to the courtyard, so I don't lose touch with the light, the color, the faces, and the Voice that has had a great deal to do with my best work. No matter how advanced office design gets, nothing compares with the Almighty's own designs.

What's the view from your office?

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Edited by Overstreet, 14 December 2011 - 04:47 PM.


#2 Darren H

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 09:52 PM

At some point in the next few weeks, I'm going to move into my 12th office in 13 years. My most recent stay has lasted a total of two months. Over the years I've made six major moves from one part of the university to another (I'm in my sixth building), some moves have accompanied job title changes, and other moves, including the most recent, have been on the whim of higher ranking administrators. Whatever. When I get frustrated or annoyed by it all I remind myself of Don Draper's line to Peggy last season on Mad Men: "That's what the money's for." As long as I get a paycheck at the end of the month, I'll go where they tell me to go and assume they're pleased with my work.

Anyway, my newest office will mostly have a view of Thompson-Boling arena, where the Vols and Lady Vols play basketball, but if I look out the large window from the right angle, I'll be able to see downtown Knoxville and the Tennessee River. If you've ever read Cormac McCarthy's Suttree, I'll be overlooking the spot where Sut tied up his boat. I'll post a picture when I get in there.

More importantly: Jeffrey, tell me about your stand-up desk. I've been considering doing that.

#3 Greg P

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 10:13 PM

I've had some nice offices over the years, but none with a view-- they've always been interior rooms. So I count it as a true blessing at this challenging stage of my life to now have four dedicated windows that overlook Biscayne Bay... My day here begins at 6am and I get to see the sunrise every morning over the water. At least once a week, if I linger long enough with my coffee, I can watch the dolphins frolicking about 200 feet or so from where I'm standing. Not bad digs.

By the way Jeff, this was taken last week during a cold snap where we had temps in the 60's. Brrrr.

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Edited by Greg P, 14 December 2011 - 10:17 PM.


#4 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 12:41 PM

I am in the midst of a cube farm, furthest point in the entire floor from any window. If I stand, I can see a window, but the four rows of people between me and it look at you funny when you gaze past them into the parking lot. In our conference room, we look out over the Caldwell Preserve and the Mill Creek Valley, but usually we have the blinds closed in order to better accommodate the LCD projectors.

In my previous locale, we had an entire floor that rid itself of assigned cube spaces and called it "agile". Every one grabbed a new spot every day, and no one had the ability to personalize any workspace. No standing desks, no special keyboards, and especially no personal photos. I was not on that floor, a fact for which I am very grateful.

#5 M. Leary

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 12:50 PM

In my previous locale, we had an entire floor that rid itself of assigned cube spaces and called it "agile". Every one grabbed a new spot every day, and no one had the ability to personalize any workspace. No standing desks, no special keyboards, and especially no personal photos. I was not on that floor, a fact for which I am very grateful.


I really hope a social scientist was collecting data from this experiment.


I don't have a window in my office, but I do work in what is arguably the early 1900s architectural heart of the midwest. People don't typically connect "St. Louis" and "architecture," but it is actually quite grand for various geological reasons. I spend a lot of time walking around this neighborhood and crossing the impeccable early 1900's faux-Oxbridge campuses at which I work and teach. Even if I don't have a window at the moment, I am very grateful that this is a large part of my daily routine.

#6 Joel C

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 02:19 PM

That's awesome, Jeff. Your office was directly on the way of one of my regular jaunts through the middle of campus, and I distinctly remember the many movie posters and cutouts. SPU is such a jewel of a campus. What an amazing gift to have for a time, shame it's changing. Hopefully you find some perks with the new setup as well.

#7 Andy Whitman

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 04:38 PM

I have two offices. I spend one day per week in the middle of a cubicle farm in a four-story building that is a third of a mile long. It houses 14,000 people. View? What's that? I can't even see from one end of the building to the other. I think there might be a window a hundred yards or so from where I sit. Maybe. The other four days per week I spend in an office in my home. I have a window that looks out over my back yard, which consists of some flowers and a lawn. Lots of lawn. This is Ohio. I like about 80% of my work environment.

#8 Jason Panella

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 02:18 PM

I was going to take a picture of my view, but it's too depressing. Our department is stuffed into what used to be a storage closet. We have no windows, no air flow, and we have to turn sideways if more than one person meets while walking down the aisle. Also, since the college's cafeteria is above us, sometimes the adjoining offices smell like hamburgers.