office expressions.

musings from my experience at the home/office.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Ergonomics is the science of designing the workplace environment to fit the user. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability.
I have had many different work environments over the past few years. One of the most notable would be the summer I spent working for an engineering/construction company in their equipment yard. The guys there referred to themselves as the 'Yard Dogs', so naturally that left me and the only other woman there to be the female version of that adorable little nickname. My 'office' was located in the breakroom, and my first task was to find my desk. No joke. After 3 hours of clearing off old phone books and parts catalogs, I uncovered a layer of mousepoop and grease so thick I probably went through at least 2 rolls of paper towels. Let's just say the fresh soft pretzels one of the guys brought up from Philly every Friday morning were the hi-light of my week. That, and being the first person to ever drive brand new F-150's to different job sites was also pretty sweet.

My first job out of college found me hunched over an old desk on a 30 year old office chair in the same room as our office server, in the 3rd bedroom of a 100 year old house.   After going slightly deaf from the noise of the server, and turning into a bit of a hunchback after only 4 days of work at the ripe old age of 23, I knew this could not be a long term position for me. That, and the putrid smell that wafted through the entire upstairs after the boss's post-lunch squat combined with the berry scented air freshener was enough to drive a girl 100mph down the PA-Turnpike, windows down, in the middle of January.

On to bigger and better things, I started work at the Newspaper, and instantly developed a habit of sneezing every 45 minutes. While the cube space was probably outdated by about 20 years, I at least was sitting close enough to some windows that some natural light would occasionally peek over the top of my cube.! Once I learned that the entire first floor of the building I was working in used to be the press room floor, and that decades of ink and oil saturated the floor beneath me, I suddenly began to understand the cause of my 45-minute sneezes, and knew I had to get out of there. (That and surviving 4 rounds of corporate lay-off's doesn't really entice you to stick around for the long haul).

Enter the most recent Land of Cubicles. My cube was beautiful, really. I was only one row away from wall-to-wall windows, my cube had a trendy burnt orange and grey color scheme with ginko patterned fabric, and my desktop was adjusted for my height, and my tush received the pleasure of knowing exactly how comfortable Herman Miller chairs actually are. I even had a conference table and two chairs for visitors (or what some might call 'drive-by' meetings!). Every time I moved cubes, I had an ergonomics consultant come in and make sure I was fitting into my environment properly, it was truly a thing of beauty.

As I type this from my kitchen/card table and my tush is going numb as I hunch over my computer, yes, there are times I miss my Herman Miller chair. not fear...another Herman Miller chair is on it's way to my office, as well as my Pottery Barn office furniture. The days of the card table office will soon be behind me, and I think I might have the sweetest office environment in my short professional history. Heck, I could even out-do the laws of the Land of Cubicles and have plants or a fish at my, or even burn a scented candle. Now there's an idea...

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