This post is the conclusion to an experiment about having no desk at work. After a month of not having a permanent desk I want to reflect on the experiment. Here is how my hypothesis stacked up.
Analysis & Conclusions
Hypothesis One: I will have less drop-ins
I was able to get enough data on this to prove my pointIn total I sat in 12 different places during the 23 working days of the experiment. Of those places, the most common was a couch in the corner of the office that I sat at on seven different days.
My average daily drop-ins was 0.78. However, when I started to develop a favorite, people began to know where to find me and the drop-in rate climbed to 1.43. Graphically, here are we can see the number of days I had each count of drop-ins. The highest counts were only achieved on days where I was sitting in a spot people knew I was often in.Additionally, I asked people what the first method they would use to get a hold of me was & what they thought the most effective method was. I then grouped those responses into two categories; desirable and non-desirable. The desirable ones were asynchronous – chat, email, text & carrier pigeon. The non-desirable ones were synchronous – in person, drop-in, turn & chat, smoke signal, etc.
The control responses showed that the method they would use to first get a hold of me were the methods to my liking only 54.5% of the time. The methods they recognized as the best way to get a hold of me were to my liking 91% of the time. Basically, people knew how to get a hold of me effectively and they knew that my preferred methods were the most effective – despite that, they still dropped-in.
After the experiment, the responses showed that people’s selected first attempts lined up with my desirable methods 71.4% of the time. Basically, they already knew how to get a hold of me, but the experiment helped force an implementation of that.
Accepted. As I moved around, I had less drop-ins. I haven’t yet compared this to a base line, but I am confident based on what I saw. The easiest way to prevent drops ins is to continually change up where you are found.
Hypothesis Two: I will not settle into a location
As stated above, during the 23 working days of the experiment I sat in 12 different places. I sat in the most popular spot 7 times.The top two spots actually account for 50% of the days. I clearly started to settle in some.I think this reflects my nature – I tend to look for efficient pathways and develop patterns around them.I did notice however that those patterns started to change over time. In the short time frame of this experiment it was hard to detect that. Anecdotally, I noticed that as new desks were put near my favorite spot, I started to favor it less. This leads me to believe that even though there were patterns, those patterns were more fluid than a permanent desk location where I might have stayed put.Not having a permanent home meant that I was flexible, even if sometimes that flexibility appeared to be a pattern.One thing I did notice though is that I skewed back towards a desk as opposed to other forms of work station. In the first half of the experiment I only sat in a desk twice. During the second half I sat in a desk seven times.
Accepted. Though the data shows I tended towards a few spots, the pattern of sitting in those spots was not one of slowly settling in. Towards the end, as the office layout changed a bit with a few new hires coming on, I rapidly adjusted.
Hypothesis Three: I will not become less available to coworkers that need me
I used a survey to measure this. I asked the question “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with how often Greg is available to answer questions”My control resulted in a satisfaction level of 8.9. The result for the time of the experiment was 8.66. Based on the sample size & the population of people I interact with on a daily basis, this does not reflect a significant drop. Essentially these are indistinguishable responses.
Accepted. My co-workers did not feel that I became less available during the survey.
Hypothesis Four: I will be happier having more variety of workstation
This hypothesis is subject to a highly subjective analysis. Let me start my listing out the pros and cons I’ve noticed during my experiment.Pros:
- Get to change who I sit near and can adapt my work station for the day to my mood, workload & projects
- I am harder to find so people tend to chat me more rather than swing by my desk
- Was referred to as a ‘nomad’
- More seamless experience, because I force myself to be mobile even when in the office, I don’t lose any productivity when working remotely
- Earbud headphones – I didn’t feel like carrying around my big headphones in my backpack
- I sometimes forget where I put my backpack & lost my water bottle for a few days at one point
- Have to pick a different spot to sit every day – introduces an element of discomfort
- A co-worker got me a poster of Chewbacca with a surfboard and I have no place to hang it
Accepted. I think in general I tend to be happier not having a permanent workstation.
I am going to stick with not having a desk. It doesn’t have a measurable negative affect on my performance or availability to co-workers and allows me a bit more flexible. I have noticed that I am tending towards desks more than couches, which I think is fine, I will probably continue to do so. There are currently a few open desks in our office, so I am going to keep rotating.