"Please use the brand-new desk lamp we just purchased for you."
January 14, 2015 10:35 AM   Subscribe

The Awl has obtained a copy of a memo from Scott Dadich (Wired Editor in Chief) to all Wired employees in San Francisco.
posted by kate blank (150 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The post on The Awl has a "this is a real memo not a parody" tag but I just keep thinking but this is not a real memo, it's a parody, right? But it doesn't actually seem to be a parody? Even though it specifies that "the elevated platform is for your laptop, not your phone" and that he "love[s] your custom-made/vintage/neon sign/one-of-a-kind lighting appliance. But it’s not right for the design of this new space" and that while we "all treasure our photos of loved ones" .... "how we treat our workplace is a manifestation of how seriously we take our work."

To avoid any confusion I should clarify that I don't actually think this is a parody but that I also just keep thinking oh my god, this is a parody, right?
posted by kate blank at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


But what about the employees who like to personalize their desks with hand lotion?
posted by BrashTech at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there anyone who works in an office who has never gotten an all-staff email like this?
posted by lunasol at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2015 [38 favorites]


That's just...

Some of that made me laugh, some made me think to my job, and some made me wonder if some of the staff needs adult supervision.

Needing to be told "don't leave half eaten food around"? Really?
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


AND STOP MICROWAVING FISH
posted by brennen at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2015 [64 favorites]


The new workspace is about making a better looking environment for the corporation publications, not for the employees.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


I've gotten a company email like this many times over the years, sometimes with the subject as a variation of "Your mom doesn't work here so clean up after yourself".
posted by octothorpe at 10:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, that seems not terrible. He should really have livened it up with some anti-pet rhetoric or an insistence on werewolf masks or a nerf-specific diatribe.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is there anyone who works in an office who has never gotten an all-staff email like this?

At my last job we got a "please stop wiping your boogers on the bathroom wall" one.
posted by phunniemee at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wash themselves, these dishes do not.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2015


Is there anyone who works in an office who has never gotten an all-staff email like this?

I've gotten the occasional "management is coming, look busy" email. I've never had to be told "for the love of all that is holy and good, throw away yesterday's lunch!", because I'm an adult who knows that you don't do that sort of thing at work.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had a boss who would do hour-long walkthroughs of our labs and offices with a team of employees from the group to ensure that everything met his standards of neat-freak-ness. I luckily avoided serving on that team; it looked soul-killing. Always made sure to leave one or two things out for him to find, because otherwise he'd go digging.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Needing to be told "don't leave half eaten food around"? Really?

Oh, yes. For starters, the mice and rats come out at night, especially in older buildings in cities.

The other day at work I saw an older guy take an open tupperware container filled with delicious-looking homemade lasagna and throw the entire thing in the trash (not the recycling bin). He saw me watching him, and said, "I don't know how many times I've told my wife that I don't want the same leftovers three days in a row."

Coffee stains on walls? How does that work?

Yeah, there are plenty of adults who need supervision.
posted by Melismata at 10:46 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


It looks like your basic cubicle farm with a slight industrial theme overlay. I don't think the industrial theme will make it a more pleasant place to work than most cubicle farms, although I suppose it makes it slightly more pleasant to look at. To me the combination sends a message to workers - look busy while we show the people we really care about around our offices.
posted by hazyjane at 10:46 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't even work there, and I feel that, although this was a general announcement, it was personally aimed at me. I'M SORRY I LEFT MY KNEADED ERASER GRUMPY OLD MAN SCULPTURE ON THE DESK OK I PROMISE I WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING FUN AGAIN.

YES I HAVE DOLL EYES IN MY BRIEFCASE.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


You can have my action figures when you pry them from my cold, dead, kung-fu grip.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [23 favorites]


AND STOP MICROWAVING FISH

I'll one up you with the guy that microwaved a two-day-old serving of calamari appetizer. For two and half minutes.

They'll never find the body
posted by Existential Dread at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there anyone who works in an office who has never gotten an all-staff email like this?

For me there seems to be this weird element of self-congratulatory stuff like "We went to great expense to purchase elevated laptop stands and monitor arms for all desks" -- which, no kidding? You purchased MONITOR ARMS? Oh my stars, I never thought I'd see the day! That's the kind of thing that I definitely don't see in my own work memos. You're Conde fucking Naste, congratulations on buying a bunch of monitor arms?
posted by kate blank at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


What, no Comic Sans?!
posted by tittergrrl at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow. I work at what I consider to be a fairly conservative office at a company over 100 years old, but even we're allowed to clutter/personalize our desks as we see fit, as long as nothing is offensive. I have coworkers who have plastered every inch of their space with pictures of grandkids, or favorite sports team. Not my thing, but I don't really see the problem.

Although yes, if they were leaving half-eaten food around, that's gross. Everyone deserves an email about cutting that out.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


ALL THESE SPACES
ARE YOURS EXCEPT
CONFERENCE ROOM C
ATTEMPT NO
MEETINGS THERE

posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2015 [162 favorites]


Needing to be told "don't leave half eaten food around"? Really?

You have no idea.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


Coffee stains on walls? How does that work?

Trip strolling down a hallway. Reach for your phone/badge/notepad with the wrong hand. Miss the open space when you take a corner.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Coffee stains on walls? How does that work?

Some of us have a tendency to gesticulate. The results occasionally have quite some range.

The other day at work I saw an older guy take a tupperware container filled with delicious-looking homemade lasagna and throw the entire thing in the trash (not the recycling bin).

Which would, I suppose, keep down the mice.

He saw me watching him, and said, "I don't know how many times I've told my wife that I don't want the same leftovers three days in a row."

Also, not seeing a problem?
posted by pan at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Jann Wenner seems like a total dickhead. Handing out demerits? Come on.
posted by josher71 at 10:53 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


This seems like a wonderful mix of disgusting employees (throw out your old sandwiches, fuckers) and a controlling asshole of a boss (No action figures? You're giving them shit for personal pictures? You're fucking Wired.)

I hate when properties who made their name by not being the boring grownups decide that they need to be the boring grownups. I guess being Conde Nast will do that, but still.

It seems like there was a vision of what a 'creative space' would look like that owes a lot to retro-futurism and not a lot to the needs of actual creatives.
posted by Myca at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


What am I missing here? That email seemed pretty normal. It seems to be the standard kind of thing you sometimes have to tell people working in the tech industry these days. I imagine them being journalists only compounds things. Banning action figures seems a bit extreme, but they probably have a lot more visitors than a team of software engineers would get.
posted by Edgewise at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


"Would the person who keeps pooing in the urinals in the gents on the third floor, please stop. If you can't stop, please contact HR in confidence to help get the treatment you need."

They did stop - or left. I don't know whether HR was involved.

This isn't the worst story. Any building supervisor will have plenty more.

People, even nice people like us, are animals - weird, weird animals you don't want to be stuck in a cage with.
posted by Devonian at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2015 [28 favorites]


It's also memos like this that remind me that people care about shit that doesn't even occur to me to care about.
posted by josher71 at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


My favorite version of this that I have seen, in a non-profit breakroom/kitchen/bathroom/shower:

"Leopards: Clean your Spots!"
posted by kittensofthenight at 10:57 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


This doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. Having worked in Newsroom-ish environments, they can be HOLES. Clean up your shit journalists and tech geeks. #teamScott
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:57 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Please. WIRED is no longer a pirate ship.



*sad pirate noises*
posted by louche mustachio at 10:58 AM on January 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


OH now I get why this was posted. Yeah those offices are fucking sick pretty. Agree.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2015


Gee, Wired sounds like a blast to work at.
posted by Kitteh at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Uhh, there's nothing wrong with this memo. It's remarkably civil. Now I feel weird about The Awl.
posted by naju at 11:00 AM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


"Leopards: Clean your Spots!"

Haha, my school mascot is the leopards... I'm going to put this up in the teachers' lounge, because yuck, the fridge.
posted by Huck500 at 11:02 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have coworkers who have plastered every inch of their space with pictures of grandkids, or favorite sports team. Not my thing, but I don't really see the problem.

I've seem that and I tend to agree with the memo that it's not the best thing to have every inch of your space covered in personal junk. It looks tacky.

I'm a humorless killjoy though and think that if you can't clear out your personal things in a pocket you have too much stuff at work so I know I'm an outlier.
posted by winna at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Some of this is basic (don't leave your lunch out, you jerks), some of it is the transformation of the newsroom from a place where nerdy reporters work and call people on the phone into a corporate space that will have visitors and that the suits want to look like an extension of Conde Nast the company. Which is a pretty radical shift for a newsroom.

Also,

He saw me watching him, and said, "I don't know how many times I've told my wife that I don't want the same leftovers three days in a row."

Then make your own fucking lunch, asshole.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


Wait, Wired was originally a pirate ship?

Coffee stains on walls? How does that work?

Wild coffee parties.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2015


It's remarkably civil.

I mean, yes, it's civil, but it's also sort of creepy as fuck.

Which is not exactly out-of-the-ordinary for businessland. I recognize that. I think this is just laden with quiet signifiers of all the ways I am at odds with businessland.
posted by brennen at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ugh!, people in groups are disgusting.

Yes, if you never clean the microwave mice will get into it and you will explode one.

Ask me how know this.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


I've gotten emails/memos like this my entire working life. whats the story here?

It seems like there was a vision of what a 'creative space' would look like that owes a lot to retro-futurism and not a lot to the needs of actual creatives.

I'd like to once again point out my loathing of the term "creatives" here. It really rubs me the wrong way for reasons I'm not fully able to articulate.
posted by Dr. Twist at 11:05 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The higher ups in one of my old work places used to know in advance if my workplace (and the entire floor) was going to be inspected. So we would get a barrage of emails telling us what to wear and what to do to make the place "presentable" to inspectors. My favorite stuff during the week was the hand written notes taped to items with even more directions as to what to do during the week.

The refrigerator in the main lab always had big orange and yellow stickers "Hazardous materials" and "Warning: Infectious materials." The week before inspections, though, there would also be a hand written sign taped onto the front of that fridge: "Please remove all food and take any lunches out of the fridge." So no one was concerned about infectious materials next to your food, but yes, food items would not be placed on lab benches/refrigerators/etc. to please inspectors who popped in every few months.

As to the Wired Office described in the linked article:

It’s an embarrassment: .....yes, I’m going to say it, action figures. Please. WIRED is no longer a pirate ship.

What? No action figures. Crossing Wired off as a potential place to work EVAR.
posted by Wolfster at 11:06 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


How do you know about the mice? I want details! Do they squirt out the front and back or do they puff up all round?
posted by poe at 11:06 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Other than seeming a little uptight for Wired, the's nothing outrageous or really even remarkable about this memo. I work at a rare book library at one of the world's most prestigious universities, and we have little signs in the break room about refilling the water pitcher when you take the last of it and dumping out the sink strainer if you rinse a plate.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:06 AM on January 14, 2015


As someone who, at one point when moving offices, had to carry an overnight bag* with me, yeah, this is weird.



*I had a couple of months where I'd be working very late, and if I missed a bus, I wouldn't get home. I slept in the office on a couch a couple times. There was a shower in there, so I was clean, but it was a very weird situation.
posted by mephron at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dude put a lot into the redesign, not just $$, and now he's being a douchey wanna-be designer, or maybe has-been designer who hasn't worked in the field in 20 years, and yelling politely at anyone who fucks up his design with their Greedos, and Dildoes, and Bilboes, and Robins. Their hoof-wakkas, tring-a-lings, grundles, and bobbins.

And also STOP THAT BLOODY FUCKING SINGING YOU!
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


An office is meant to be for working in, not for 'hosting' CEOs.

I've gotten 'clean up your desk' emails to the whole company but it was always taken as automatic that absolutely nobody would. In fact it would make you more messy.

There's not many ways you get to be in touch with your inner teenager when you're 40 but having a messy desk is one. The cleaners don't care if you have shit piled up. In fact it makes their jobs easier if the whole place isn't tarted up like some Elle Decoration wet dream.

Just put your cups in the sink.
posted by colie at 11:08 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The best was the email that said "I'm a fucking uptight douchebag of a CEO and I bought everyone on the floor new iMacs because I really like apple's design choices. Now, everyone using a non-apple mouse or keyboard needs to replace them with the ones that came with the computer, because I didn't spend all that money to make this place look like a newegg catalog."

Or something along those lines.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:08 AM on January 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Shorter version: Why the hell can't you people be like iPhones or something? They all look fantastic, with those clean lines and that subtle detailing. They're very tasteful. And they're all the same so they go together and they look fantastic with the modernist furniture we spent so much money on. Why can't you damn employees just... be like that?
posted by Naberius at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


When telecommuting becomes more mainstream, do you think we'll all get e-mails from the boss' boss asking us to hang a specific, company-branded backdrop for our video conference calls? Or dress up our homes with more flair?

"Jim, you're doing fine work. But we need to talk about your wall. What does your kid's soccer trophy have to do with application development? Now look at Ron. Ron has an aquarium in his home office, and it's in an old Apple IIe! Clients love it!"
posted by somespecialist at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Mice: Every London office in which I've done an all-nighter alone has them running all over the place. Messy desks or not.
posted by colie at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2015


This would be normal if WIRED employees worked 8 hour days. It is gross because it basically translates to:

"I know you work here 13-15 hours a day, but we need you to hide your presence so that the office always looks like a photoshoot from 'Dwell' Magazine. Also hide the things that inspire you because we spent a lot on trending interior design and that should inspire you enough. Thanks"

Fuck this.
posted by jnnla at 11:10 AM on January 14, 2015 [44 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole

(like, yes, leaving old food out is super gross, but the rest of the memo has a not-very-well-concealed tone of "how DARE you subhuman workers sully my new corporate glad-handing lair with your presence")
posted by junco at 11:13 AM on January 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


The memo does read like immaturity has been nurtured and nourished in the name of creativity.

It is also possible that everybody gets the memo, to avoid embarrassing those few people actually responsible for (fill in the blank).

And the story at my workplace about the now-former employee who microwaved broccoli...oh, that story still makes us laugh. But the reality, at the time...not so much.
posted by datawrangler at 11:16 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another issue is that offices may have janitors to clean up, but it's almost certainly not in their job to wash dishes and throw out abandoned bananas. Somebody on staff is going to lose the competition to ignore the mess the longest, and I'll give you two guesses on the likely gender of that employee.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:17 AM on January 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


I worked in a Verizon building for a while that was inherited from Ma Bell. It had all kinds of odd corners and cull-de-sacs because it was designed to look like a bakelite handset from space. Some of these corners were filled with old printers or PBX circuit boards piled to the (drop tile) ceiling. The only color in the entire office was a single poster featuring a kitten hanging from a branch. The poster had water damage.

There were coffee and nicotine stains on the walls, and the tiny 'kitchen' featured a sign about how you spend a third of your life here you should keep it clean. That sign also had water damage.

I still have nightmares about not being able to find my cubicle.
posted by poe at 11:21 AM on January 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


A nice office is definitely about perception as much or moreso than working. One of my favorite points in Remote (book about remote working) was that when you let employees work where they like, you're free to have showy office space if you need that and can call meetings there when it's advantageous. When employees are forced to be in the office, then all the different purposes of the space get commingled and it doesn't quite work for anybody.
posted by michaelh at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'd like to once again point out my loathing of the term "creatives" here. It really rubs me the wrong way for reasons I'm not fully able to articulate.


Because sometime in the last few years, it has drifted from meaning people who actually create stuff, like art and writing, into some kind of gross business speak for people who figure out innovative ways to avoid paying people who actually create stuff like art and writing.

And that is the true story of why I shall never again return to Businessland. It is a barren, hostile wasteland.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'd bet money that the average age at Wired skews younger than most large corporations. 20-somethings that don't know what it's like to do their own laundry.

Also, please vacate my lawn.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:23 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, Wired. You used to be cool.
posted by valkane at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, please vacate my lawn.

*pulls pants down*
posted by pyramid termite at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Phew, what a jerk for a boss! What's next, memos about TPS cover sheets and not wearing enough flair?

I worked in radio/print/tv and then tech from the 1970s. There was/is always a variety of personal styles: super spartan cubes/offices/desks that almost make you think the place is vacant (seems to be what this guy wants) to piles of old ms./newsprint/script/research and junk. Just about never food...sometimes dirty cups in the sink....

WIRED, back in the days it was a print mag, was a good read. I even subscribed for a few years. Once CN took over, it started a slide. Quality went downhill, article content and quality took a dive, and then the web pages sold out: they will try to set 15 or 20 cookies and beacons...there are mouse-overs, slide-ins, overlays, and every kind of pop-up trick in the book. I gave up on that site about a year ago and rarely visit anymore.

But again, a micro-manager OCD boss like this...phew, do not want...(and thankfully, do not have).
posted by CrowGoat at 11:26 AM on January 14, 2015


Maybe not every office aspires to the same culture, and that's okay. The modern tech-oriented office in SF tends to look like this now. The point in the memo that the goal is to not look like a dorm room is, I think, a fair one. If your design and aesthetic aims for your client-facing/important-person-facing office are different from what is now fairly generic Google/Facebook-ization of the office environment into a quirky college dorm, then I think that's legitimate and you should direct your employees accordingly.
posted by naju at 11:27 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


It looks like the new office has a lot of them newfangled "coworking spaces" where nobody has an assigned desk and you nomad around with your laptop like a hobo day to day. From the comfort of my gigantic private office with a door, I judge those workplaces harshly, but I could understand why you wouldn't want people colonizing shared spaces with their stupid toys or pictures of their stupid kids.

As for treating people like grownups, let me have a hearty laugh as I recall the emails we had to send to video game developers when journalists came around, about hiding their liquor bottles and half-naked anime girl figures and maybe taking their piles of laundry home to wash. People are pigs, and a thousand times moreso when there's staff to clean after them.
posted by Freyja at 11:30 AM on January 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


when you let employees work where they like, you're free to have showy office space if you need that and can call meetings there when it's advantageous.

I've heard of wealthy (not super rich) people that have a beautiful, minimalist 'show' kitchen with a door that leads to a small 'real' kitchen where they actually do their microwaving and keep the dishwasher etc. It grew out of having a 'utility room' for the freezer etc.
posted by colie at 11:31 AM on January 14, 2015


This is true: I once worked in the editorial department of a publishing company (pre-internet) that sent around one of these things that actually told us to get rid of all the books. We were like, but... we... um... use the books... We actually cannot do our jobs without the books, so what now??? The owner/CEO was a marketing guy.
posted by taz at 11:31 AM on January 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Can they not just hire some cleaning staff and say "If you leave out half-eaten food on your desk, the staff is instructed to throw it away. Once a week, everything in the fridge is tossed, containers and all."

Staff should also take care of coffee stains.

Another issue is that offices may have janitors to clean up, but it's almost certainly not in their job to wash dishes and throw out abandoned bananas.

Not wash them. Chunk 'em. If you lose your treasured Dr. Who mug because you can't be arsed to clean up, too bad for you. And I'm pretty sure most janitors have done things like pick up and throw out old bananas. But if not, just make sure you pay them a little more to do so.

I mean, yes, people shouldn't just act like poo-flinging monkeys, but if Wired is so worried about the CEO spying some forgotten Styrofoam container of lasagna, hire people to clean that up.

The part about "only use standard lamps!" gave me Joe vs. the Volcano flashbacks.
posted by emjaybee at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Bosses can be right
Workers can be jerks
You decide who's right
You decide who's jerks

Just remember
Just remember

H.R.'s not on your side
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm suddenly reminded of someone at an office I used to work in, who had every square inch of her cubicle - inside AND outside walls - covered with all manner of signs, clippings, pictures, religious treatises, and printed-out jokey email forwards about either a) powerful womanhood, b) Christian faith, or c) Barbados citizenship. And then on Christmas she strung lights around her desk. And she had a radio tuned into a West Indian-oriented station all day. She was a sweetheart, though, and this was in finance and she was one of the secretaries, so no one complained that I was ever aware.

Same office, different incident - this was a memo I saw once while wandering the office. Not a "clean up your trash" memo (although we had those too); this was a hastily-printed message about loading paper into the printer. It was just a single line of type, but it was oddly formal-sounding all-caps:
PUT THE PAPER IN THE PRINTER AND PUT THE WRAPPER IN THE TRASH
And that was it.

And to this day I don't know why it gave me this particular impulse, but I took a pen I had with me, and added my own message underneath, also in all-caps:
IT PUTS THE LOTION IN THE BASKET
And then I went on my way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2015 [23 favorites]


Good memo. People should know to clean up. My desk is a bit messy but if I know clients are coming, I clean it up out of respect. And old food ... what really? Gross!
posted by freecellwizard at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've heard of wealthy (not super rich) people that have a beautiful, minimalist 'show' kitchen with a door that leads to a small 'real' kitchen where they actually do their microwaving and keep the dishwasher etc. It grew out of having a 'utility room' for the freezer etc.

Exactly, and even people with much less money like to have less-used and more-used rooms in their living or working space if they can.
posted by michaelh at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2015


Your office is not your brand.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


But make sure the items you don’t need make their way off of horizontal surfaces and into the appropriate recycling or refuse containers at the end of the day, or simply take them home.

Who the fuck talks like that. Horizontal surfaces. Are you a robot?
posted by desuetude at 11:44 AM on January 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


My desk is completely covered in publisher catalogs, old notes, picture frames, and currently houses two uncleaned lunch containers and a filthy coffee mug. I feel so ashamed.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2015


Can they not just hire some cleaning staff and say "If you leave out half-eaten food on your desk, the staff is instructed to throw it away. Once a week, everything in the fridge is tossed, containers and all."

Staff should also take care of coffee stains.


Look, I have a messy desk on which coffee mugs I forget aren't empty have gotten pretty dire. But if I left half-eaten food in a common space or coffee on a wall and actually took the attitude that I was in the right because there are people who leave food around and people who clean up after those people, I sort of would expect to be struck by lightning.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love your custom-made/vintage/neon sign/one-of-a-kind lighting appliance. But it’s not right for the design of this new space. Please use the brand-new desk lamp we just purchased for you. And yes, we know there are areas that could use better overhead illumination. Our architects are working on it, I promise.

Wait, you admit that there isn't enough light in some areas and that you're "working on it?" So, in that case, why is a personal lamp "not right" for the design of this new space?

Protip: This isn't a very strong argument. Maybe you should've designed the space to include enough light in the first place.
posted by desuetude at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is really *not* as mad as that it's obvious why The Awl published it.

I've worked in a few offices in the publishing sector in London, all of which have made moves in this direction, and for the most part it's an utter godsend to any employee who isn't intent on using the office as some disgusting hoarding space.

The most extreme I've witnessed was an office in which, post-overhaul, we were provided with plasticish blotters that took up about the square foot and a half or so of desk directly in front of you. Edit was that at the end of the day, and shit apart from your phone and computer had to be on this blotter, so the cleaners could actually clean your desk.

Dramatic, but for me it gave a decent boot up the arse to keep my desk and work gear far more organized. For a lot of us it was a success. The hoarders, obviously, were horrified. The most obstinate one spent twenty minutes every evening passive-aggressively arranging all of the (already foot-high) heaps of shit on her desk into one enormous jenga tower solely on the blotter.

AFAIK she still works there and, years on, is still doing so.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:51 AM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


But if I left half-eaten food in a common space or coffee on a wall and actually took the attitude that I was in the right because there are people who leave food around and people who clean up after those people, I sort of would expect to be struck by lightning.

Oh I'm not saying people who do that aren't terrible people. But unless Wired wants to make neatness a condition of employment they are stuck with whatever terrible people they hired. (These are also the kind of people who never believe you are talking about their coffee stains and takeout containers. Because they are terrible.)

And cleaning staff are hired to clean. It's not immoral to have them do so. If it's a really bad mess, pay them more and send them around twice a day. Now they have more money and your office doesn't smell like day-old fish tacos.

Or you could actually threaten to fire people for being slobs. That might work.

Either is better than a whiny email.
posted by emjaybee at 11:54 AM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh one last!

On one clearout day we found several boxes of CDs. Not CDRs, or archive files. As in somebody's entire personal record collection that they were hoarding in my department's storage area.

It turned out to belong to one of or designers, who reacted very angrily to our suggestion that she remove it, saying that she needed them for "design inspiration". These were taped-up cardboard boxes of CDs. This spiralled into a stand-up row, somewhat fuelled by the booze our company had ill-advisedly put on as a thank-you for us spending the day clearing out.

I have some fair amount of sympathy for WIRED's management here.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:56 AM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The one thing that really struck me (well, other than the food oh my god are you all savages there bit) was the message about "hey, don't leave confidential work material lying around."

That was a "excuse me, what was that?" moment. Because I work for an insurer, and document security is drilled in from day one.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:58 AM on January 14, 2015


Early frontrunner for best Passive-Agressive Note of 2015.
posted by larrybob at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The depressing thing about this is that Wired must want to be some kind of lifestyle 'brand' now, rather than a magazine, and so its boss in fact actually is showing random CEOs and richoes around as part of his job, as well as working out how to hire and retain great journalists who write stuff that people will pay to read.
posted by colie at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dr. Twist, that word bothers me too in that "creatives" has a similar problem to "illegals" or "schizophrenics". They took out the "person" and substituted the descriptor for it. Bad metonymy! Bad!
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


I've been working in my new workplace for two and a half weeks. We have an office kitchen, shared by oh...100 people? 150 people? in the building. On the first day I noticed that the kitchen sink was crammed full of dishes with a red coffee mug perched on top like a successful mountaineer. The red coffee mug (and the mountain) are still there, 2.5 weeks later.

I'm very interested to see what happens next. Do they mold? Does someone send an angry email around the building? Passive aggressive notes by the sink? Does someone just get fed up and wash them? Do they leave a martyr-ish note, or do they just suffer in silence?

So much excitement.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


"We went to great expense to purchase elevated laptop stands and monitor arms for all desks. ... but know that the elevated platform is for your laptop, not your phone."

Is this a standing desk thing? Or a shelf?
And if it's a shelf, why can't I put a phone on it?

How about a plant? Can I put a plant on the shelf?
posted by madajb at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


This memo is kind of a metaphor for what's happened to the Internet.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


I am very curious to know this man's opinion on red staplers...
posted by madajb at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


That was a "excuse me, what was that?" moment. Because I work for an insurer, and document security is drilled in from day one.

Document security isn't drilled into reporters because we're the ones you're supposed to keep documents secure from. And because until very recently there was (I assume, judging from the memo) no expectation that anyone not employed by Wired would set foot in the newsroom or related areas. Especially when you're covering a non-centralized national beat like "technology," the people you're writing about don't walk through your door for an interview. Either you call them on the phone or you go to them.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd like to once again point out my loathing of the term "creatives" here. It really rubs me the wrong way for reasons I'm not fully able to articulate.

It's because of the conceit that only people who pick colors for fonts can be creative and the rest of us who make actual work happen are therefore not creative.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


And cleaning staff are hired to clean. It's not immoral to have them do so.

Sure. But I don't appreciate it when people make my job more difficult for no reason, and I doubt they do either. I'm in no way suggesting it's immoral for cleaning people to clean. But even if it's my job to, for instance, rake leaves in somebody's yard, if they intentionally took the leaves I raked yesterday and spread them back out again, going, "Hey, raking leaves is what you're here for, and I felt like it!", I think I'd be irritated, you know? I completely get where you're coming from, and there's nothing immoral about staff doing what they do. But there's something that doesn't sit right about the attitude of "Oh, well, if people want to leave their food around, just pay people more to clean up after them," as opposed to "If you run a business, you have the right to expect people to clean up after themselves within, like, basic human reason." Cleaning staff is there to do what they are needed for, not to deal with somebody's whimsical desire to willfully and proudly refuse to throw out your own trash because you're a creative, you know?

I don't know. It's not a huge deal, but I must admit I find the idea of managing an office where people behave like this much more unpleasant than the idea of having a boss like this. Yes, some of this is very persnickety, but as has been mentioned, needing to tell people some of this stuff is sort of ridiculous. Like I said, I'm hardly an angel on this score, but if somebody said "Hey, can you clean out that gross coffee mug," there's no way I'd be like, "I don't wish to and I don't have to."
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:09 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Coffee stains on walls? How does that work?

Accounts payable and receivable.

*pours out an XL for the k-dog*
posted by bonehead at 12:10 PM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


There's a really well-concealed but strong East Coast bias to it that really takes this to the next level for me. I've certainly been on the receiving end of plenty of these sorts of bogus all-hands notes, but few of them have carried the subtext of "listen, we would never in a million years need to talk about this in New York and we think you're children because we have to talk about it here in California" with such sneering glee.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:13 PM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


You should have seen some of my offices in NYC. HOLLEEEE SHIT
posted by josher71 at 12:16 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Needing to be told "don't leave half eaten food around"? Really?

I swear I will finish reading the thread, but holy god you have no idea how awful people can be.

Due to budget cutbacks, we briefly went from two bathroom cleanings a week (luxury!) to one. Very quickly people started hoarding toilet paper and paper towels, and had to be told to stop. The bathrooms became worse than crime scenes, and people had to be told to stop. Building-wide emails not to throw away anything except paper towels in the bathrooms because the garbage was only being taken out once a week. Emails not to use half a roll of toilet paper as toilet seat covers.

Finally, building management decided that this wasn't working and bumped up the bathroom cleanings back to twice a week (like I said, luxury!). Budget wasn't adjusted, though, so they had to cut elsewhere - no more garbage service in the entire building. We were expected to throw out our own garbage in large bins in the hallway, and then the lieutenants would take the bins to the dumpster. First were the emails to remind everyone to actually take out their trash (the fruit flies were getting bad). Then the hoarding of bin liners, and the resulting emails. Then the emails to tell people not to overfill the hallway bins or leave garbage next to the (overfull, because they weren't being taken out to the dumpster) bins.

Then the email notifying everyone that someone filed an OSHA complaint.

Near daily emails about every misdeed under the sun. Don't park illegally. Don't leave windows open in the middle of winter. Don't steal from the snacko. Don't put scantily clad women or cartoons of Muslim stereotypes on your walls. These are all things that the horrible, horrible people that work around me apparently need reminding of.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Honest question: What's the threshold at which food on your desk becomes old food on your desk? I ask because I generally eat half of my lunch at lunch time, and the other half around 3:00 (in advance of the 3:30 blood sugar crash), so it sits there -- either in its container, or covered with the foil it came wrapped in -- for that period of time. I have my own office, though. It's not a shared space.

Are the people I work with saying awful things about me because my two-part lunch occupies my desk for part of the afternoon? Am I in the clear?

BOLO for an angst-filled AskMe....
posted by mudpuppie at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2015


...it appears that I do not truly comprehend how bad offices can get.

I am both amazed and terrified.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's the threshold at which food on your desk becomes old food on your desk?

IMHO, when it's still there after you've left for the day.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:31 PM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


Honest question: What's the threshold at which food on your desk becomes old food on your desk? I ask because I generally eat half of my lunch at lunch time, and the other half around 3:00 (in advance of the 3:30 blood sugar crash), so it sits there -- either in its container, or covered with the foil it came wrapped in -- for that period of time. I have my own office, though. It's not a shared space.

Are the people I work with saying awful things about me because my two-part lunch occupies my desk for part of the afternoon? Am I in the clear?

BOLO for an angst-filled AskMe....


If it looks like a meal (i.e. not snacks in a bowl) and you're not eating it and it's not lunchtime, or it is the kind of food which odor gets around after an hour or so and it's been an hour, it starts to seem like old food.
posted by michaelh at 12:32 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


In my past as the head of HR for a tech company, I've had to write this memo before. And most of the staff was older than me. Actually, I wish I had this back then to reference because I agonized over how to write it without either being passive-aggressive or nagging.

I often joked to my friends that I was the office "mom". I wasn't hired to clean up after adults but I still had to do a lot of it in order to have our site look good to potential clients, usually people with a C at the beginning of their title (CEO, CFO, CIT) working for companies with huge Wall Street presences. And I believe that doing so also took care of the employees - if we didn't sell our product because we looked like amateurs, how are we to pay our staff?

And I would -never- allow employees to take advantage of our cleaning staff; those people work hard enough for low enough pay, they don't need white collar privileged jerks making their jobs harder.
posted by _paegan_ at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've gotten emails/memos like this my entire working life. whats the story here?

My immediate assumption was a story of "wow, creative class people working at fancy places with expensive chairs are supposed to be catered to because they are the future, the disruptors, etc - not like regular office drones who could be replaced by trained monkeys organized via an Uber-like platform!!! It's shocking the elite people aren't allowed to leave food garbage on the floor or stain the walls with coffee when everyone knows that rules are for the little people!!!"
posted by Frowner at 12:39 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


My all time favourite All Staff email was the announcement that someone had parked so close to the door it couldn't be opened and could they please move their car.
posted by fshgrl at 12:40 PM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


My immediate assumption was a story of "wow, creative class people working at fancy places with expensive chairs are supposed to be catered to because they are the future, the disruptors, etc - not like regular office drones who could be replaced by trained monkeys organized via an Uber-like platform!!! It's shocking the elite people aren't allowed to leave food garbage on the floor or stain the walls with coffee when everyone knows that rules are for the little people!!!"

Interesting. My immediate assumption was "need content and a lot of people can relate to getting this kind of email about shit they don't care about that doesn't actually affect any of the productive work that they do".
posted by josher71 at 12:42 PM on January 14, 2015


It's easy to make fun of how silly it sounds (or how much of an outrage! it is) when it's put into writing. But it's way easier to start off a hardass and then relax than the other way around. I'm a neat-desk person myself, so I sympathize. Actually, I bury my desk in stuff, that I'm actually using and then put it away when I'm done. It's not about what it looks like, I just like having the maximum amount of space available to me to work in. It drives me crazy when I have to sit at someone else's desk temporarily for something and there's about 10 square inches not covered with miscellaneous old worthless paperwork that never got disposed of and personal crap.

At my last job we got a "please stop wiping your boogers on the bathroom wall" one.

Can beat that. One of the submarines I worked on published in the official daily schedule a note about what should not be done in the showers.
posted by ctmf at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can beat that.

I see what you did there.
posted by Melismata at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Wired library doesn't have any books in it.

THE WIRED LIBRARY DOESN'T HAVE ANY BOOKS.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:47 PM on January 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


The Wired library doesn't have any books in it.

THE WIRED LIBRARY DOESN'T HAVE ANY BOOKS.



Don't fuck it.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:53 PM on January 14, 2015 [12 favorites]



This memo is kind of a metaphor for what's happened to the Internet.


This actually is probably the point of the post whether the Awl knew it or not and is a very powerful metaphor. Used to be, a tech/futurist magazine like Wired was staffed like an elite young boys club (with exceptions obviously, but with an assumption of maleness probably), who were exploring totally uncharted territory and reporting on stuff that nobody else could even comprehend, much less talk about. Now, Wired is an international, industry-leading brand.

+s: more diversity, more professionalism
-s: less freedom
+/-s: more responsibility

The only thing that didn't change most likely is the salaries (94: We're just getting started, we'll pay you the usual rates for a journalist: 50k/year. 2014: We're lucky to not be Newsweek, we'll pay you way more than most journalists: 50k/year.)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:53 PM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


yeah, you can have diversity and professionalism while maintaining personality in an office space though. no need to go all permaslick-sheen-of-corporate-perfection on the place.

i'm kinda surprised by the comments. i'm all for cleaning up old food but this memo read more to me like "WORKERS: you are now afterthoughts in our beautiful new corporate showplace. please continue working but do not dare to leave a trace of your horrid selves in any location. our brand image is more important than your workflow, comfort, or needs."

the slick unpopulated photos really hammered it home. this is a place for money! no people allowed!
posted by ghostbikes at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Colophon: Remember when Wired used to have Street Cred?
posted by valkane at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2015


If you send around an office memo saying "Please do not leave your dirty dishes in the sink," the meta message that you will be spreading is the information that people who work here leave dirty dishes in the sink. This results in people who had not yet been leaving dishes in the sink adding their dishes to the pile.

It is wise to be very careful what you put in an inter-office memo. Chances are the place would have end up a lot tidier if the memo had thanked everyone for becoming so careful about cleaning up since the renovation.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:24 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear, "mice" is a polite euphemism for rats.
posted by JackFlash at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


OMG that memo is terrible and I totally get why The Awl published it.

1) Journalists are slobs with packrat tendencies. That is good for their work and should be tolerated for that reason.

2) If you have to send a memo like this, it needs to come from the office manager. It coming from the EIC makes him sound culturally clueless and like he has very weird priorities.

I mean, Wired is not a bank or an insurance company. The neatness of their offices is like, so not the point.
posted by Susan PG at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of the reasons I upended my entire East Coast-based life and came to SF (where I knew nobody) is because I walked into the Hotwired space in 1996, saw the seething, chaotic, varied types of workspaces and work set-ups and I thought, "This is where I want to be." My entire professional career was launched by falling in love with the messy, colorful 4th floor on 520 3rd Street. I was lucky enough to work with a lot of brilliant people whose desks doubled as curatorial collections for the ideas and ideals they were in love with.

I suppose those were the pirate days, pre-Conde Nast.

(The day the company announced the Conde Nast sale and that the website wouldn't be part of it, I emailed a pal at a start-up and wrote, "I see where this is going, and I need to get out.")

I think every generation may find a way to reinvent the creative workplace in response to -- or in anticipation of -- the times they're in. And I think this memo (which has been verified as true? Y/N?) demonstrates that Wired is no longer the Bengali Typhoon but the mainstream media. I wonder if a lot of the reaction I'm seeing in my social media feeds comes from knowing that the upstart entities of our early adulthoods are now the joy-killing establishments of middle age.
posted by sobell at 1:40 PM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


I've toured a whole bunch of offices, mainly tech companies. If they are as sterile and cool as the EIC seems to insist he wants, they are really quite uninteresting. The people who fill these offices make them into fun and unusual features, not the architects and designers who bought some colorful lamps. If the supposedly important visitors want to sit in a room with a bland yet hip and modern aesthetic, they can check into the W hotel or visit a Cathay Pacific airline lounge.

I mean really, would you rather have the Bay Bridge made out of discarded soda cans or another poofy beanbag chair?
posted by zachlipton at 1:48 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Today In Tabs take: "Kraglizing the new office."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:53 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


That is totally an e-mail that would come from the desk of President Business.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]




Colophon: Remember when Wired used to have Street Cred?

Never. It was a joke from day one, design over content.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:01 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Today In Tabs take: "Kraglizing the new office."

I made this FPP and then commented that it had a "this is a real memo not a parody" tag but I just keep thinking but this is not a real memo, it's a parody, right? even though LITERALLY A HUNDRED MetaFilter comments were like yep, this is normal then I clicked on the Today in Tabs link and saw "hand-painted 24 carat gold whiskey tumbler" I thought well that's got to be a joke but it was not and I was like AM I BEING FUCKING PUNKED?

Then I realized I had misread and was imagining a solid gold whiskey tumbler which I hope someone can confirm for me would still be ridiculous.
posted by kate blank at 2:41 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


When the executives were picking the cubicles for the office at the last job I had, the CEO was very adamant that they go with the cubicle walls that were just a loose cloth cover on a metal frame...No backing behind the cloth. The reason? He hated the look of cubicles where people had stuff (photos, notes, "I love mommy" drawings, etc) pushpinned to the walls, so he picked the walls that could not hold a pushpin.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:49 PM on January 14, 2015


Years ago, my father was a managing editor type for the Wall Street Journal. This was many years before the NewsCorp sale, and the tension between the news (liberal) and editorial (conservative) staff was epic and endless. Sometime in the mid 1980s management tried to install cubicle partitions in the newsroom. They stayed up for a few days, then the crew came in one morning to find all the cube partitions stacked against one wall and the open-plan newsroom restored. They didn't try to partition the newsroom again and no one ever 'fessed up.

At least they were spared the insulting memo from management, though.
posted by workerant at 2:55 PM on January 14, 2015


which I hope someone can confirm for me would still be ridiculous.

And heavy.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2015


Just want everyone to know that I'm sitting here eating the second half of my lunch. It's 3:20 p.m. and there's food on my desk. If my little plan works, some of the more opinionated of you are squirming in your seats right now because you can't do a damned thing about it. Ha!
posted by mudpuppie at 3:22 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I worked at the big C, we had document policies, and storage requirements. But in about half the buildings, you had nice big cubes with nice tall cube walls and everyone was pretty chill about it so no one lost their minds. You could put stuff up, and the worst that would happen would be someone shooting you an email saying that "that could be a little offensive, you might want to take it down". We also had some things we had to put up, phone number lists and stuff like that. But as long as you followed the confidential document policy - which because more and more silly as we ended up no longer having actual physical documents - no one said boo.

Then my most recent job had rules that drove people insane. You were not allowed any paper at all. Or any writing utensils. (This ended up with one person, who was just working there for the money while working on his art, to quit.) They tried to take away any other containers, but that got smacked down for HR reasons and people needing drinks, as it was a call center and we kind of needed drinks.

Then someone almost got fired for having paper at their desk. Tissue paper. To wipe their nose when they had a cold, and there was a lot of screaming and a supervisor did get fired for that at the behest of HR.

This policy screams call center considerations, not magazine, and that boggles me a little.
posted by mephron at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


It looks like the new office has a lot of them newfangled "coworking spaces" where nobody has an assigned desk and you nomad around with your laptop like a hobo day to day.

I no longer work in an office but this would give me hives. Occasionally I'd book a small meeting room and take my laptop if I needed to work on something without any distraction, but holy hell, give me my own desk please.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:27 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


the elevated platform is for your laptop, not your phone

I'm still trying to figure this one out. Are you not allowed to put your phone on your desk? Why?

The obvious solution to all of this is to have a public area and an area where the work actually gets done. The public space is kept pristine so visiting CEOs don't have to reminded that the little people have personalities. The private space only has the basic rules about no rotting food, picking up after yourself and remembering to flush the toilet.
posted by Gary at 3:30 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't see anything in the memo about the microwaving of liver and onions. That really needs to be in there.
posted by dubwisened at 3:47 PM on January 14, 2015


I refuse to believe this authentic wired until it tries to sell me an over-sized watch.
posted by srboisvert at 3:56 PM on January 14, 2015


I don't see anything in the memo about the microwaving of liver and onions. That really needs to be in there.

Also setting your cellphone which rings constantly to have Umbrella ella ella ella eh eh eh as your goddamn fucking ringtone you antisocial asshole in the next cubicle.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:00 PM on January 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


the elevated platform is for your laptop, not your phone

I'm still trying to figure this one out. Are you not allowed to put your phone on your desk? Why?


Methinks it means you should use the furniture as the interior designer intended, and not try to out-think it by, for example, putting your rarely used phone on the elevated platform in order to clear desk space.

The interior designer likely had a vision that when you walk into the office, the sleek laptops and their colorful screens are prominently visible and everything looks modern and angled and Jony Ive style. As opposed to seeing a bunch of desk phones, which are devices that haven't really changed since the 1970s.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Coffee all over the walls at my workplace is a feature, not a bug.
posted by bizwank at 5:01 PM on January 14, 2015


Well SOMEONE is about to get an envelope full of glitter in the mail.
posted by KathrynT at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


This is why novelty rubber vomit was invented.
posted by Chitownfats at 5:21 PM on January 14, 2015


If only lots and lots of people sent glittermail to Wired.

If only.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:23 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Y'all need an office aunty! Or uncle. Generally an elderly cleaner who works the same 9-5 hours and potters around the place tidying up and bringing coffee to visitors and biscuits at tea-time. She will glare at you if you don't wash your own mugs, gossip about what you threw away in the trash, but also make ginger tea if you look poorly and re-arrange your desk after she cleans it just the way you like. You must remember the names of all her grandchildren and make sure she is never overworked because she is Aunty. She gets paid slightly less than the receptionist, but her job duties are relatively light.

The idea of an overnight janitorial crew who come in and anonymously and briskly whisk away everything is to wrongly prioritise efficiency of the visible outcome, a clean office, over the true value, an office of happy people. The social relationship of a shared office Aunty/Uncle who has the authority of age to counter the low-paid status of the work, and the visibility of an actual person being involved in making the building a pleasant place to work at, is what leads to the outcome. Not expensive lamps.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:30 PM on January 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


The problem with this email is that it makes some pretty uncontroversial, super-simple-stuff, "stahp being jerks" kind of points—don't leave goddamn halfeaten food around, etc.—and then undermines itself with weird control-freakery that it just kind of tosses out there without much in the way of justification.

That's not a good memo. And it's a warning sign.

The stuff about action figures and remark about "custom-made/vintage/neon sign/one-of-a-kind lighting appliance" in particular don't belong in an all-staff message, unless there's a really large number of people who have that stuff. I'm betting there aren't. It's probably a handful of people, and so the effect is a really passive-aggressive, cowardly-bullshit one.

If you're a manager, and someone on your staff is doing something that they shouldn't be doing, and it's not (1) a problem with overall culture, or (2) a problem that you don't know who is really at fault for, you don't send a goddamn all-staff email. That's like...not even People Management 101. It's like the orientation-day seminar you take before you get into class. I have no idea why so many people find it so hard, except to say that there are a lot of people who in no way ought to be in management roles, and American corporate culture severely undervalues the skills necessary to run a team that's not loathsome to be a part of.

If there was a management equivalent to Coding Horror, this would deserve a place on it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:31 PM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


At my last workplace, we once got an all-staff email reminding us to not leave food on our desks as it attracted the rats. Personally, I can think of better ways to deal with rats than sending emails about them, but whatever.
posted by lollusc at 9:31 PM on January 14, 2015


At a prior workplace, we had to have "males only" staff meetings about not urinating on the floor. Twice, because the first time the message didn't get through.
posted by mmb5 at 5:08 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


mmb5, the answer to that particular problem is a sign like this.
posted by colie at 5:47 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Linking off of this from the original Awl post:
In lieu of windows, the L-shaped room had wipe boards spanning two of the walls, plus a quote painted in crimson from Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You Will Go. “Seuss” was misspelled. (“Suess.”) Short of the bookshelves crammed with textbooks and tech manuals we were promoting that year, we had given up on decorating.

“All I wanted was a window,” Noah, my officemate, said, looking at the plain white wall above his computer where a window should have been. “I didn’t specify dogs or no dogs. That’s all I wrote down on my request form: ‘I’m just excited to be in a room with windows!’”

Just across the hallway, sun streamed in through the enormous windows of the dog-sanctioned offices. Level 4 employees who had requested dog rooms were awash in sunlight. Sometimes, they complained, it got too hot in their room from all those awesome UV rays.
I've been in a shared windowless space for over a year now. I'm starting to go mad, I think. It's still better than the windowless space I worked in where on your first day you were assigned a pen, a pencil, and shown where the department stapler resided in case anything ever needed to be stapled. At least I now know to not apply at Amazon or other dog-friendly environments. Sounds like hell.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 7:06 AM on January 15, 2015


When the executives were picking the cubicles for the office at the last job I had, the CEO was very adamant that they go with the cubicle walls that were just a loose cloth cover on a metal frame...No backing behind the cloth. The reason? He hated the look of cubicles where people had stuff (photos, notes, "I love mommy" drawings, etc) pushpinned to the walls, so he picked the walls that could not hold a pushpin.

Ha, I had this too. I promise you we were using precious productivity time to figure out how to thwart this -- those walls will hold T-pins angled downward, and wire hooks.
posted by desuetude at 7:44 AM on January 15, 2015


My pretty new dream office, do not mess it up with your individuality. This is Wired, and despite our self-proclaimed coolness, you are a corporate drone, and don't you fucking forget it.

Issues with food lying about attracting vermin should be dealt with by managers. Memo says 'I can't manage the managers of the magazine.' Kind of embarrassing.
posted by theora55 at 8:01 AM on January 15, 2015


Also setting your cellphone which rings constantly to have Umbrella ella ella ella eh eh eh as your goddamn fucking ringtone you antisocial asshole in the next cubicle.

Those people also leave their phones sitting on their desk while they go pee, get coffee, or chat with someone on another floor. And the phone ALWAYS rings during that time.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have 15 action figures in my cube. Including one of ME. And my wife won't let me bring them home. And what else in the world would I do with my full size plastic Captain America shield? And I'm keeping my trophy of a horse's butt, because By God, I WON IT AT A COMPANY EVENT!!!
posted by Billiken at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2015


We just got two emails in rapid succession. The first informs everyone not to dump liquids in the bathroom trash because it's making a mess. The second was to warn everyone not to slip on the ice, because apparently the building manager's idea of clearing snow is to dump five pounds of salt right in front of the door and call it a day.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2015


Millions of dollars in paint a cubicle walls, but they left in place the original single-paned windows that cost a small fortune in ongoing HVAC costs. I used to work in that building and sitting near those windows is a nightmare at almost every time of the year. Hot with horrible glare in the sun and terribly cold in San Francisco's blustery June cold snaps.

That, alone, would have confirmed that Wired continues to be about form over function. From the days of changing fonts and searing color choices, the new office would seem staid and boring, but the overall idea that design is more important than function remains. The memo furthers it along into the space being more important than the people who work in it. The design of the space is the focus of the memo, not the employees or the work that they do, or their happiness with it. This is a people management failure of the highest order and I bet it will cost them a lot more than coffee rings on their pretty new tables.
posted by Revvy at 10:16 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


At the entrance to the WIRED offices I believe there is a sign that says KEEP YOUR EXPRESSION NEUTRAL AT ALL TIMES
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:32 PM on January 15, 2015


One of the neat things about working for the government is that contrary to expectations* (at least in all the offices I've been in), there's a thorough acceptance of people's need to feather their nests. One cubicle near me had climbing vines entirely surrounding the doorway; another turned a support pillar into a Christmas-chimney display, with a fake hearth and stockings hung over it; yet another looked like Wavy Gravy exploded all over it, with tie-dye and Earth-Mother motifs and such everywhere. By comparison I feel like my little pile of triathlon gear is owefully underexpressive.

*(I file this phenomenon under the same category as how Catholic schools generally bypassed the big public debate about teaching evolution in schools and included it in the science curriculum as a matter of course. Perhaps there's a name for these happy quirks.)

If you send around an office memo saying "Please do not leave your dirty dishes in the sink," the meta message that you will be spreading is the information that people who work here leave dirty dishes in the sink. This results in people who had not yet been leaving dishes in the sink adding their dishes to the pile.

Jesus, what kind of assholes do you work with?
posted by psoas at 10:59 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Coffee stains on walls? How does that work?

If they form the right pattern of sigils, they enchant the building to ward against the powers of sloth. It can make the residents really jittery, though.
posted by homunculus at 2:00 PM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


« Older "You can't hit me, I'm a Presidential candidate!"   |   Chicago Tribune 1934 Chicagoland Road Map Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments