Laurie Taylor Column

March 23, 2007

"Sussex University's new open-plan offices blamed for increased stress and bitter in-fighting" - The Times Higher, March 16

From: Jamie Targett, Director of Corporate Affairs Subject: Open-plan offices and "hot-desking"

As you will recall, last year's report by the Space Optimisation Committee led to an ongoing restructuring of staff spatiality, which involved the closure of all individual tutorial offices and the relocation of academic research staff to the new open-plan office in the former Sports Centre five-a-side football facilities.

Following last Wednesday's unfortunate outbreak of hand-to-hand combat in the open-plan area, I am now writing to remind staff of current hot-desk protocol. Adherence to this protocol should help the university to reach its objective of setting "a new standard for others to follow in the creation of collaborative and innovative research environments".

  • Hot desks are available on a strictly "first come, first served" basis. They may not be reserved with sports coats or beach towels
  • The tethering or chaining of guard dogs to any hot desk is expressly forbidden
  • All proprietorial signage on hot desks is forbidden. This includes the carving of initials
  • To maximise research collaboration, all hot-desk chairs are now fitted with interdisciplinary castors
  • All collaborative and innovative research should be conducted in a whisper
  • When vacated, all hot-desk chairs should be returned to an ergonomically neutral position.

I hope this clarifies the situation

Jamie Targett
Penthouse Suite, Admin Block

PS: In an attempt to reinstate traditional notions of spatiality, a number of staff appear to have "set up office" in the adjoining toilet cubicles. We are informed by the Potential Risk Committee that this represents a serious hazard. Members of staff using the facilities for traditional reasons find themselves functionally inhibited by the noise of mobile phone conversation while the permanent occupancy of cubicles poses an unacceptable problem for the small but significant number of mature staff who regularly find themselves "taken short".

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