I've been reading the strange, brilliant, fascinating book, A Pattern Language: Towns, Building Construction. It uses architecture, sociology, psychology, and anthropology to describe the most satisfying architectural environments.
Of course, I know nothing about this subject, so anyone who knows this field, or the history of this book, may consider my enthusiasm naïve and uninformed. But I don't care. What the authors describe resonates with me completely. I crave the Sitting Wall, the Front Door Bench, the Child Caves, the Sequence of Sitting Spaces, the Sleeping to the East!
The authors also discuss commercial spaces and offices. Are you being driven mad at work by misplaced walls or the wrong kinds of noise? Take this quiz to see how your office measures up.
According to A Pattern Language: Towns, Building Construction, you'll be comfortable in your workspace when:
there's a wall behind you (so no one can sneak up behind you).
there's a wall to one side (too much openness makes you feel exposed).
there's no blank wall within 8 feet in front of you (or you have no place to rest your eyes).
you work in at least 60 square feet (or you feel cramped).
your workspace is 50-75% enclosed by walls or windows (so you have a feeling of openness).
you have a view to the outside (no matter how large your office, you will feel confined in a room without a view).
you are aware of at least 2 other people, but not more than 8 people, around you (less than 2, you feel isolated and ignored; more than 8, you feel like a cog in a machine).
you can't hear workplaces noises that are very different from the kind of noises you make at work (you concentrate better when the people around you are engaged in similar tasks, not very different tasks).
no one is sitting directly opposite you and facing you.
you can face in different directions at different times.
you can see at least 2 other people, but not more than 4.
you have at least one co-worker within talking distance.
to make the space more attractive, incorporate Windows Overlooking Life, a Half-Open Wall, Thick Walls, Open Shelves, Pools of Light (over the workspace), and a nearby Sitting Circle.
* There's been a lot of interest in the one-page discussion guide for book groups. Because so many people mentioned that they're reading The Happiness Project with their church group, or in a spirituality book group, and the like, I wrote another one-page discussion guide that focuses on the spiritual aspect. If you'd like either discussion guide (or both!), email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com.