If you liked my 1984 desk, you might appreciate these less-olde-timey photos, of my 2014 and 2016 desks.
It’s July 2014. In a few months, Apple will introduce the Apple Watch. I’ve been working at Intel for almost 22 years. As I sometimes do, I took a photo of my office desk.
The basics are still there: Desk, computer, bookshelf, space for pinning stuff. Yet everything has changed from 1984.
The computer is now a small laptop in a docking station, with an external monitor. The keyboard and mouse are wireless, to reduce the clutter of wires on the desk. Network connections are part of the ordinary office desk infrastructure, like electricity.
The phone is now just a headset that plugs into the laptop. Phone calls go through the same network as office data.
You can’t see it in this photo, but this desk is about 2/3 the size of my 1984 U-bench and subsequent offices. With smaller cubes and a higher density of workers, noise-canceling headphones are common.
Speaking of ergonomics, the desk is an adjustable-height, sit/stand desk, designed to combat office worker obesity and the physical stress resulting from sitting in the same place all day.
The 1984 plastic cup has been replaced with a sturdy bottle of water that can be carried everywhere.
In the dim, lower-left corner of the photo you can see a computer carrying case. It has wheels and an adjustable handle so I can take my office essentials (computer, office phone, water bottle, paper, pen) with me when I go to meetings.
Mobility is a theme: the phone that follows the laptop, the pack-able water bottle, the docking station, and the carrying case. This setup for moving between meetings also works well for the occasional business day-trip.
A garbage can and a recycling box are in every office. The garbage is emptied almost every night, and the recycling every week or so.
The blackboards and chalk in 1984 were eventually replaced by whiteboards and dry-erase markers. By now (2014) the cube is too small to have much of a collaboration in, so the whiteboard is used for personal notes, such as when my every-7-year vacation+sabbatical is.
What isn’t there may be more interesting that what is:
- Almost no material pinned to the walls, even though all the cube walls are bulletin boards ready for pinning paper to.
- There is almost no paper on the desk.
- This desk of a software engineer looks pretty much like any office desk of any office worker.
- There are no paper manuals – they’re all online.
- There are still a few technical books about particular languages and tools.
By the way, the red Swingline stapler is a nerdy reference to the movie Office Space.
For contrast, here is a photo of my desk from September 2016. It’s not quite a fair comparison, because this is my last day at Intel and my desk is empty.
A few differences:
- The cube is now about 1/3 the size of my 1984 cube and the walls are about 2/3rd the height. The color scheme is beige and white.
- There is a second monitor. That is, the cube is smaller and the screen is bigger. More of office life happens on the screen.
- The bookshelf space is now the small box on the floor on the right.
- The chair is even more ergonomic.
- There is an “I’m on the phone” light to let others know not to disturb you when you’re on the phone.
- The desk is not a sit/stand desk. Those that do use them find that in the “stand” height, they’re right in the faces of people walking by.
- The trash can and recycling box are gone. Employees bus their own trash and recycling to a pair of central locations on each floor.
- The book on the desk is a borrowed one: “The Experience Economy”.
- Just under my name plate you can see my parting advice to co-workers: Bill and Ted, with the caption “Be Excellent To Each Other”.