Monday, May 16, 2011

ProfSpace: The Poll

There were some interesting comments on a recent post about professorial office space, and it seems that professors who commented are pretty evenly divided between like/love and dislike/hate of their offices. That conclusion is based on the small dataset of those who were moved to write a comment, but is it representative? Reviewers who have read the post are skeptical of these results and have asked me to do more experiments and acquire more data.

Anyone can answer the poll of course, but my intention is to gauge the feeling of professors about their offices, as this population has at least a decent chance of having an office with real walls, doors, and/or windows, unlike office space commonly assigned to students, postdocs, adjuncts etc. (with important exceptions, of course).

I have provided only yes/no as possible answers to the question "Do you like/love your office?", so if you like some things about your office and don't like other things, I'm asking you to weigh these likes/dislikes and choose which one tends to dominate your feelings about your office. You can provide the nuances in the comments if you wish, and elaborate on the depth of your affection or hatred for your office.

The profspace poll:

Do you like/love your office?
No free polls


Clarissa said...

I love my office. It's tiny, windowless, poorly lit and shabby. But it's mine. After years of sharing an office with several people as a TA, I am beyond happy that I now have my own space at work where I can close the door any time I want.

Alex said...

This poll would be better if you had more than 2 options, respond to the statement "I like my office" and have the options "Strongly agree, slightly agree, neutral, slightly disagree, strongly disagree."

We could do this like a course evaluation!

Anonymous said...

In your last post, I commented that the idea of spending the rest of my career with my current office made me weep. I stand by that. No nuance needed.

Anonymous said...

The poll would be better if had the option "I am from planet Xendor" because that is the only answer I want to give.

Anonymous said...

I was "gifted" the first office by the entrance to our suite. I'm routinely interrupted by lost undergrads (no, I don't know where Prof. Smith from Other Department is!) and delivery guys who can't read the short directory posted on the door and other random people who assume that I must be the department secretary so it's my job to solve their problems. There's also no air circulation and I can feel my brain cooking on warm afternoons, which are plentiful around here. I'm moving as soon as I get a chance.

Anonymous said...

What can I say? It's an office, it has a window, desks, bookshelves. I can work here theoretically. In practice, I need to go find a library booth or coffee shop where no one knows me, in order to get work done.
The walls are thin, and I can hear every word my neighbors say. That is the only problem.

Anonymous said...

I like my office itself, but I hate being in it, because students can find me. Or else my boss wanders in and tells me I'm doing something wrong. The space itself is nice but I can't get any work done there. I answered "Yes".

Anonymous said...

No matter what your questions, the answers only reflect the subset of respondents who visit your site.

You can have as many options as you like, but unless your sample is representative, you won't be able to generalize to anyone else.

These polls might be interesting but please, PLEASE, don't speak of them as if they reflect the rest of the population. They don't.

In other news, survey methodologist stops sneezing after drinking a mint tea- finds cure for common cold.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, only when every single professor in the world answers this poll will I believe the results. Otherwise, it is only a reflection of the views of the people who answer this poll, unlike other polls, which also reflect the views of people who don't answer the polls. Or something.

Anonymous said...

I am a graduate student, so this is a bit off topic for this discussion, but I love my office.

I share it with 2 other graduate students, but it is a large office. It has a very nice view out of the window.

My desk is by the window, so I get a lot of sunlight, when it is not raining here.

The offices are all in a separate corridor, so there is no student traffic right outside the door.

The only problem is that I do not particularly like my office mates.

Unbalanced Reaction said...

I hadn't realized until I read this post that the older I get, the more critical I am of my office.

Anonymous said...

@Unbalanced Reaction: The older you get? I thought this sort of thing would go away eventually... sigh.

I really, really wish I could convey to PIs how important a quiet office can be to some people's productivity. It's clear that not everyone needs this, but I do, and I constantly face the choice of working at home or in a library and being seen as absent and unsocial and missing out on impromptu meetings (my PI doesn't like to schedule much) or being present and distracted every 1-5 minutes. Yes, it's really that bad. I'm a postdoc, and I share a small, windowless (but recently renovated) office with someone who has to be on the phone regularly for his work. I try to drown out the conversations with white noise, but it's never enough. And my officemate still accounts for only 50% of the interruptions.

I'm deeply bothered by how much productivity I lose to my environment. I think of this stage as a test--not so much about how much work I can do in a few years, but how much work I can do in a seriously suboptimal environment in order to get promoted to an environment conducive to work. The problem is that there isn't enough space for every postdoc to get a private office (and the offices were clearly built to house two people), so I've been afraid to invoke some special privilege and ask for my own space. I'll miss out on a lot of informal conversations, meeting, and introductions if I work somewhere else. (I did read somewhere that introverts' cognitive performance is much more affected by distractions than extroverts'. I'm surrounded by extroverts.) What do I do?

It might not come as a surprise that I'd have no trouble whatsoever sharing or giving up the dysfunctional space that is my office.