Alice Jones: Who wants a work space to look like home?

FreeView from the editors at i

Share
Related Topics

This column is brought to you from my desk. It's pine-effect MDF and not very big and is occasionally plunged into gloom when the motion-sensor light on the ceiling not quite directly above it deems that I am not jiggling extravagantly enough in my chair. Around me are teetering towers of sample CDs by “the new Bob Dylan” and “the new Adele”, review DVDs of “the next Wire” and “the next Killing” and architecture monthlies which I intend to read one day very soon. There are two postcards of Daniel Craig and one copy of Katherine Jenkins’ autobiography (Time to Say Hello).

Welcome to i’s arts desk. It’s not very pretty, and it’s not very tidy, but we like it well enough. We all have a computer to write on, a telephone which calls the number you want it to around 70% of the time and a chair to sit on, which is almost always still there when you get in in the morning. We also get free notebooks.

Just a short hop across the lobby we have a canteen which serves a variety of hot and cold beverages, sometimes with only a 12-minute wait attached! They do food, too - salad, sandwiches, the odd gourmet treat like Roast Beef Stir Fry Pork. It’s fine. We very rarely go hungry. And, as you can see from the newspaper you’re holding, we get the job done, every day.

What we don’t have is a Lala Library, or a secret garden on the roof (not even a blatant garden on the ground, I don’t think), or a ‘Snuglushness’ chill-out zone, or a personal allotment, or a Bikedry area. To have those, you have to work at Google, who have just released pictures of their new five-storey, 160,000sq ft headquarters in London. A mindboggling orgy of every design idea that anyone has ever had – boardrooms like padded cells! Meeting areas with ironic ‘Granny’ chairs! Big patriotic murals! - it’s like the Big Brother house mixed with the backdrop to an Alan Bennett monologue.

It’s not clear when “cool” offices became a thing. Certainly, the denizens of Silicon Valley, who decreed that the geeks would inherit the earth but only if they were allowed to play crazy golf and Xbox at break-time, have a lot to answer for. Isn’t there something a little infantile about making the place where you go to work into somewhere where you also go to play? That’s what homes, gardens, parks, pubs – everywhere but the office, really – are for.

It’s not the employees’ fault. It’s unlikely that anyone asked them whether they wanted a meeting room with essence of pub snug in which to thrash out their bottom lines. And while making offices more pleasant is a nice idea, work-life balance does not come from slogging around the clock in a place that looks a bit like home but with added ping pong. Google HQ even has a “Home Working Area” which appears to be a room that looks like a home office, possibly to befuddle employees into thinking that they need never to leave the building again. Then again, maybe I’m just jealous because they probably all have lights above their desks that work too.

 

* Shakespeare never had to deal with this. A delicious row has broken out between the cast of New Tricks and its writers. In an interview in the Radio Times, Amanda Redman branded the scripts bland, while her co-star Alun Armstrong claimed that they would often have to rewrite them. "Basically, we all want to move to Copenhagen to get to do some really extraordinary television," added Dennis Waterman, helpfully.

Writer Julian Simpson hit back instantly. "I was going to be writing today, instead I'm just going to hand the actors a pad and pen," he sniped, denying that any cast member had contributed even a comma. Armstrong retorted by quitting the show. Perhaps he realised that one makes an enemy of a writer at one's peril. A fatal fall off a ladder is just a tap of the laptop away after all. The 2007 writers' strike in Hollywood which shut down production of Desperate Housewives, along with 60 other major shows, was a disastrous measure of their clout. A good performance can make the difference between a hit show and a flop, but without a script, there is no show at all. Television is a collaboration.

They should all learn to share the limelight peacefully - but then that's hardly showbusiness, is it?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before