The Weekly Round-Up: People are strange. Offices are stranger

Bean bags instead of desks, and is IT taking over your mind?
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

Bean bags instead of desks, and is IT taking over your mind?

People, as Jim Morrison sang, are strange.

When you put lots of people together in an office environment, they get even stranger. Strange squared, or, more fittingly for the office environment, cubed. Morrison didn't sing that, obviously. Although he might have if he had a nine-to-five job in middle management, rather than being a rock star.

Office desk

Some people go to extreme lengths to decorate their desks at work, while others leave theirs barePhoto: Dyanna

One example of this strangeness is the things people do to their desks.

You sit at the same desk for eight hours a day for years. You have two choices: do you turn it into an extension of your home - cheese plant, family photos, teddies, welcome mat, conservatory - or do you sternly refuse to do anything to personalise your desk at all?

The Round-Up is definitely in the latter camp, if only because it's impossible to come up with a wallpaper to match the unique carpet at Silicon Towers.

But as well as deciding whether or not to stick that ever-hilarious 'You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps' sign up on the side of your cubicle - go for it - soon you could be choosing your own hardware too.

That's right: it's bye-bye beige PC, hello glamorous tablet and see-you dull brick, greetings shiny smartphone.

Great news, you might think. Finally, a chance to tell the IT department exactly where they can stuff that ageing laptop they lumbered you with, and go out and buy the gaming machine of your dreams.

Well, maybe. But first companies are going to put in place a policy around this BYOD malarkey - that's Bring Your Own Device, in case you were wondering.

So if you're the CIO in charge of this heady rush of business embracing the consumerisation of IT, you might want to take your head out of your hands and stop crying for long enough to read this checklist of things to do when setting up a BYO strategy.

That's because it's not all plain sailing and there's plenty that still needs resolving. Bringing your own kit to work is fine, but what if the company decides to wipe it when you leave the firm? Sure, that might mean you don't walk away with their CRM data, but what if that also means your MP3 collection and your wedding photos get purged too?

Similarly, BYOD is fine until you break something, at which point you run crying to IT, just like the old days. And they laugh, and shake their head and tell you to go away, because no helpdesk in their right mind wants to provide unlimited support for every available gadget.

To counter this, CIOs may well introduce time-limited support, something along the lines of the first hour being free, but after that costs get charged back to your department. Imagine trying to explain the extra cost to your boss when IT has to fix your work tablet that you pranged while getting overexcited playing a first-person shooter at the weekend.

Feeling boxed in?

Talking of tablets, if the boss is liberal enough to let you bring your own kit to work, then an office full of tablet enthusiasts might look very different to the one you are in today.

Tablets are made for (over)sharing, as one silicon.com columnist pointed out this week, so there's no point hiding them away in your cubicle.

No - tablets are for poring over with perky, fresh-faced colleagues, sharing ideas like the...

...clean-cut, keen, can-do types you are.

Google office

Will your standard office layout soon be replaced by bean bag rooms and juice bars?Photo: Scott Brownrigg Interior Design

And that means there's no more lurking in your cubicle for you. It's time to embrace a different office design, one all about the meet-and-greet with your coworkers.

So does that mean your extremely organised office will be replaced with a series of bean bag rooms, juice bars and open-air zen thinking gardens? The Round-Up very much hopes so, if only because that should provide a few more places to hide from the boss.

None of this helps right now to do anything about the odd-smelling weirdo in the next cubicle, but it's a start at least.

From brick to slick

Smartphones are great. Yes, those little wonder gadgets allow you to cart around the entire office in your back pocket wherever you go, tweeting inanities all the way.

But let's be honest: they're a little bit dull to look at. They come in two basic designs - the black slab of touchscreen glass like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the black slab of touchscreen glass with a Qwerty keyboard wedged underneath it.

So if you yearn for the days when mobile phones were far more wild and wacky, take a look at our photo gallery of Nokia phones through the ages, which shows of some of the more creative designs our Finnish friends have come up with over the years, from the weird to the wonderful.

The Round-Up's first ever phone is on the list - the Nokia 3210, which is still remembered with great fondness.

You'd certainly get fit lugging another of the phones on our list - the 9.8kg Mobira Senator, unveiled way back in 1982.

And if that trip down memory lane isn't enough, why not check out our gallery of the history of the phone box - the Round-Up is a big fan of the thatched model which once stood on Eastbourne seafront, resembling nothing more than a gigantic mushroom.

Life is but a game

And finally this week, it has emerged that some gamers are so involved with their virtual escapades that they try to use gaming experiences in real life.

A study of 15- to 21-year-olds discovered some gamers have found themselves trying to do things in real life that only work in games, like using a search button to find someone in a real crowd.

Augmented reality

Young gamers have found themselves trying to apply game mechanics to real-life situationsPhoto: Layar Augmented Reality

The Round-Up finds it deeply unlikely that anyone would get quite so immersed in their corporate IT systems.

But then again, if one of your friends pays you back that tenner six months late, and then only manages to hand over £6.34, he may be channelling the corporate invoicing system.

Similarly, if you hear nothing from him for ages, then he phones you up and tells you the same thing over and over again, he's probably just spent too much time dealing with the wonky corporate email system.

Elsewhere on silicon.com this week: check out our list of five ways to make the rest of the business fall in love with IT again, and if that doesn't work, 10 things you should do when looking for a new job.

Editorial standards