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Work patterns

 

Disciplines > Workplace design > Work patterns

Irregular office hours patterns | In-the-office work patterns | See also

 

There are a number of patterns of work. If you can understand these better then you can design environments that better suit the people.

Irregular office hours patterns

When out of the office, people:

  • Work at home

  • Visit and work in other offices

  • Visit customers, suppliers and other third parties

The In/Out pattern

The In/Out pattern is typical of sales and support people, whose job is mostly with customers. They come into the office for short periods during the day to plan together, to access the network, to pick up parts, etc. Their ‘real work’, however, is outside the office, typically with customers (or perhaps with suppliers or other third parties).

In the office, they need to quickly connect up to the net, make phone calls and have early and late meetings. They are the group most likely to use touch-down desks. They are also likely to have small, brief and ad-hoc meetings, ‘grabbing space’ as they need it.

The Traveler pattern

The Traveler pattern is typically a cross between the Heads-Down and the In/Out patterns. The traveler will spend days, or even weeks, away from the office, then will return for a period, perhaps preparing for the next journey. Common travelers include people with global or regional jobs, managers of virtual teams, and sales people with remote customers.

Whilst they are in the office, travelers are much like other office users, although they may use the phone more and socialize/meet less (especially if they have no coworkers in the office).

The Wherever pattern

The Wherever worker will work wherever they are. If they want quiet, they will work at home. If they have a meeting or want to socialize and ‘catch up’, they will come into the office. Not being tied full-time to equipment or other people, and without heavy connectivity needs, they can work wherever they like.

In the office they may use hotels and touchdowns or may share within a team space.

The Whenever pattern

The ‘whenever’ pattern is adopted by people who are not tied to a particular work time frame. They work whenever they have work, such as attending late-night global teleconferences. Such patterns are typical of managers and global workers whose work expands and contracts and who often have to work outside of normal work hours.

In the office, they may work late or do out-of-hours work at home. Managing work-life balance means that they may work odd hours in the office.

In-the-office work patterns

When in the office, people:

  • Work at their desk
    • On the phone
    • On the computer
    • Doing paperwork
    • Talking with neighbors and visitors
  • Work away from their desk
    • In meeting rooms
    • At the desk of other people
    • In labs, demo rooms, training rooms, etc.
  • Take breaks and socialize
    • Going for coffee
    • Going for lunch
    • Going to see other people
    • Stretching legs, walking and thinking
    • Taking ‘bio-breaks’
    • Going to and from the building

The Heads-Down pattern

This is the traditional office-worker pattern, where most of their work is carried out at a single desk. Work may be any balance of telephone, computer and paperwork. Although there may be meetings away from the desk with other people, this is a relatively minor part of the job. People from R&D engineers to Personal Assistants work in the heads-down mode.

Heads-down people use meeting rooms less (they are invitees rather than organizers).

The Meeting pattern

The meeter is a person whose job is spent largely in meetings with other people, typically on site. They are thus away from their desk for a significant proportion of the day and are often ‘incommunicado’. Depending on the role, the meetings may range from small and informal groups, to formal large-room large-group meetings. Sales and marketing people are typical meeters, as are a number of managers.

Meeters use their desks less, but may return to it many times a day. People who meet at their desk may be able to manage with less personal desk space whilst having more meeting space.

The Knowledge pattern

The knowledge pattern occurs where the person is a keeper of knowledge, either in a form of a librarian, keeping it for other people, or as an expert, keeping it for their own use. A visible effect of this is that they may well have extended requirements for paper storage, either printer-sized sheets or books and manuals. The ‘modernized’ knowledge owners will now keep much on the computer, and may even be heavy database and/or web designers/users. People with these patterns include Administrators and R&D engineers.

The Hosting pattern

This pattern appears where (primarily) customers are regularly hosted on-site, for demonstration of products, training or simpler meetings. This is typically done by sales and marketing people.

When customers are on-site, there exists a great opportunity to impress the company brand values on them. There is also potential for them encounter sensitive information. There is also a danger of them getting a bad impression. Their experience thus needs to be carefully managed.

Hosting people have more need for the whole customer experience than their own desk. Sales people, for example, have been willing to trade their own space for customer demo space.

The Technical Equipment pattern

The technical equipment pattern appears for people whose jobs involve interaction with technical equipment, often products. Their dilemma is that they not only need a conventional desk—they also need a lab with additional power, equipment racks, secure storage, and so on. The equipment they use will strongly affect the space needs.

Technical Equipment patterns often appear with such as R&D Engineers, Customer Engineers Application Engineers.

The Technical Lab pattern

This pattern is an extension of the Technical Equipment pattern. Not only is equipment used, but it is also opened up and is worked upon. Additional equipment is used, such as test equipment, and soldering may take place. This is common for R&D and post-sales support people.

See also

 

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