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Thinking outside the cubicle ... is this the future of the office?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by 2muchcoffeeman, Dec 8, 2006.

  1. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Well-Known Member

    I for one certainly hope so. It seems a helluva lot more logical than what we have now.

  2. CentralIllinoisan

    CentralIllinoisan Active Member

    Isn't that what most of us beat writers do now? Aside from games, there are very few times I'm beholden to be at the office at any specified time.
  3. OTD

    OTD Well-Known Member

    It works for beat writers, but despite the advances in technology allowing copy editing to be done from the bar at Atlanta Airport if necessary, bosses seem to want to see their desk guys in the office. I had this conversation with a assclown boss once:

    Me: What about if I work from home one or two days a month?

    assclownBoss: No

    Me: Why not?

    assclownBoss: I can't have you doing that.

    Me: What do you mean? Writers do it all the time.

    assclownBoss: They're different.

    Me: How?

    assclownBoss: It's just the way it's done.
  4. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    I'm in an "if you're not here, you're not really working" office. It blows.

    Asshole ad person: "It must be nice to show up to work at 4:30."

    Me: "I was at the school for over two hours doing interviews and watching practice. Why don't you sell more than nine ads for a 30-page football tab? Go fuck yourself."
  5. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    Amen to that one!
  6. leo1

    leo1 Active Member

    i agree with CI. this might be one of the few things that the newspaper industry is on the cutting edge with, even though it won't let editors work this way.

    the only way the results-only thing works is if people don't abuse it. in the newspaper business it's pretty obvious if you've been out drinking instead of working - you turn in nothing or, at best, garbage. in the corporate world most jobs have less tangible measuring sticks. ultimately profit is the gauge (and so it is with newspapers, too, i know), so if companies can still be profitable while doing this, i don't see why more won't allow it.
  7. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    I had a boss once who told me it's more important to be in the paper than in the office. I immediately cut my office time by about two thirds. Now, I'm almost never there, but magically, my work gets done. It kind of has to be that way for writers and photographers, but papers seem reluctant to move over to that line of thinking with anyone else. There are a lot of jobs will work for, but there are a lot it won't work for.
  8. Of course it's a great idea. Think of the savings on commuting time, gas (don't even get me started on how patriotic it would be, cutting down on foreign oil dependence). But control-freak bosses who can't escape the old way of doing things would have to die out first for it to happen large-scale.
  9. Pringle

    Pringle Active Member

    I was at a place where the editors couldn't give a shit less if someone was working from home or the office, but some of the cancerous people in the department would have a tempter tantrum if you weren't anchored to your desk for eight hours a day. They'd seriously keep silent inventory. And no answer would suit them. Terrible working environment.
  10. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    I disagree. I dont' think editors should work alone. the best copy editing is done when there is the chance for collaboration when questions arise, be it factual, taste etc.
    Plus, editors need to be easily reachable - for changes, additions, deletions. As much as you might saw cell phones make that possible, the truth is the writers don't know who might be working on their story on any given day.
  11. OTD

    OTD Well-Known Member

    So the writers call the office, and they get transferred to the copy editor's number. And yes, collaboration is good, but so is saving the environment and maybe the copy editor's sanity. I didn't say it should happen with everyone everyday. Like I said, one or two days a month.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I started in this business 30 years ago when, for the most part, writers wrote in the office. If you covered a pro event, there was a Teleram service on-site; it was kind of a prehistoric fax machine. Someone in the office would type it into the computer. But if you covered a local event or were writing a pro or college off-day story, you drove to the office to write it, because if you didn't, someone would have had to take dictation and that would have been a waste of manpower.

    I think we had better newspapers back then in a lot of ways and for more than a few reasons (and we were worse in a few ways, too). But I think nothing has hurt us worse than having the bulk of the writing staff functioning basically as freelancers than as part of an entity greater than themselves. It has hurt the product and the work of both editors and writers alike. On most large staffs I think there is a lack of cohesiveness that not only affects morale but is evident in the product.

    Now when writers and editors interact, it is almost always strictly business. Well, I worked one place where the SE sent a memo to the desk that said it gets lonely on the road and to try to treat writers like human beings. So there was a brief period when the desk feigned interest in people that for the most part they barely knew and in some cases had never met.

    But more than that, I think the writers brought a lot to the table when they would stop their typing to interject themselves into philosophical arguments that desk people were having, even when it had nothing to do with the writers' beat. We had greater diversity of input then, even though the staffs were less diverse, and it wasn't the forced kind of institutionalized "let's hear everyone out before the editor does what he wanted to do in the first place" newsroom meetings bullshit of today. With people saying what they really thought, there was a greater tolerance for independent thinking and thus we had more truly bizarre people populating newsrooms rather than the insurance-office atmosphere of today in which strange-behaving people are weeded out as if they were contagious. Some young staffers now might scoff at the notion that we were more freewheeling 30 years ago, but all I can say is that I used to delight in going to newsstands that stocked out-of-town newspapers because of the amazing diversity those trips offered, but now I seldom bother because for the most part the newspapers look and read very much alike.

    And in interacting with the desk and with each other in the office, I think the writers had a greater awareness of the product. I think almost all of them read the paper, and today I would wager that fewer than half do. Also, I believe that since they knew each other better, there was more sibling rivalry among the writers even among unrelated beats. That could cause complications, but on good staffs I think it made people more creative as they tried to one-up each other. Today's writers are more likely to work as if they operate in a vacuum rather than perceiving themselves as part of a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

    Not to romanticize the past too much, there was some ugliness inherent in all that togetherness: public arguments that bordered on and sometimes ventured into violence, widespread alcohol abuse that roped in some people who would not have been otherwise inclined because "everyone goes there after work," and certainly fewer allowances made for having a life outside work. But on the whole, I think the environment was healthier for having the unpleasantness out in the open rather than the sneaky office politics of today. Writers were certainly more aware of the in-house dynamics at play and were more able to stave off the ploys of a brown-nosing or backstabbing rival on staff.
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