There are so many things that are different at Kennedy Space Center compared to Umeå University, it´s almost difficult to know where to start. One really obvious difference though is the big open offices with cubicles, as you can see in the photos. Almost everyone are sitting in these cubes, only a few people here have their own offices and those are of course people with higher positions.
On my first day here I got my own little cube, identical to everyone else’s. In this room there are about 60 cubes so I expected it to be noisy and I was really skeptical to whether it would be possible to work in here without being disturbed. To my surprise, it works. It really does. When you are seated in this type of arrangement you can not be chit-chatting with other people or talking loudly on the phone or anything like that – all unnecessary noise must be kept to a minimum and when you need to discuss something you go to a meeting room and do so. Most of the time it works excellently and I find myself working very efficiently here.
I also find myself wondering why we can´t seem to get a similar office arrangement to work properly at the Chemistry department. For several years we have had a large office with 8 desks that no-one seems to want to sit in. For a long time it has been a bit of a transfer office in which newly recruited people get to sit for a while before they can move into other, smaller offices with only 3 desks. I think it´s high time that we start asking ourselves WHY. Why is that, and what can we do to change it? Is it a matter of work environment, that the eight-desk office is not sufficient when it comes to furniture, light, ventilation etc, and if so what can we do about it? Or is it mainly a matter of attitude, that the eight-desk office has lower status or is not cozy enough, and therefore the smaller offices are more attractive? Or is it perhaps a social thing – in a smaller office you can allow yourself to talk and interact more with your roommates?
Regardless of the reason, we should be able to solve it. If NASA can have room after room after room with 60 something cubes in each room and make it work, then we should be able to organize a room with 8 desks in a way that makes people accept and even appreciate it. And we have fika breaks, and a relatively long lunch break that gives us time to get out of whatever type of office we are in. Here at KSC it´s work work work, lunch by the computer, and work work work until it´s time to go home. Haven´t seen any coffee rooms yet, or even a coffee machine. I have heard that there is a Starbucks somewhere but I don´t know where. So this is a very efficient caffeine detox for a four-cups-per-day person like me!