Having a shared office in an academic department is a double edged sword; on the one hand it means there’s always someone you can chat to, on the other it means that there tends to be more disturbance.
I guess I am pretty lucky in that the five of us get on very well indeed, with the most vocal disagreements being generated about who’s turn it is to put the kettle on, and how the last person to put the kettle on got distracted before managing to actually put the boiling water into the tea pot.
I share an office with four other post-docs in Earth Sciences. One is a cryopshere chemist and modeller generally sat in front of his computer, another is an atmospheric chemist, so spends a bit of time down in the lab and the rest in the office, and another is a geochemist who works on tephra and diamonds (a bit of time in the lab, quite a lot sat in front of Excel). The real troublesome one, however, is my colleague Christina who has a lot of involvement in running various geochem labs, and hence has a lot of people looking for her. She spends about half her time in the labs, and half in the office, but ends up working insane hours that makes the rest of us look like part-timers.
One of the constants of any day is that people will come looking for Christina. If she’s sat at her desk then obviously they come in and all is well. However, if she’s not in the office, what is perhaps most interesting is that every encounter tends to go the same way:
- They hover outside the door for a few seconds looking in at an empty chair at her desk.
- They slowly open the door
- “Is Christina in?” (Christina is always in)
- “Do you know where she is?” (If she’s not in the office there’s a 99% chance she’s in the lab).
We’ve drawn up this simple flow diagram which should hopefully assist future visitiors to our office.