Making that corporate office a little more personal

Posted 24 March 2010  

I received word this week that I’m moving offices next month. It’s only fitting for an off-topic post about my current office; if nothing else, this can serve as a sort of memorial for me to look back on once I’m back in a storage closet somewhere.

I also received a few questions at MIX from customers about my office… I guess thanks to Twitter it has a reputation.

In the world of Microsoft buildings, I have always tried for a rather eccentric one. I like nice things and am not a fan of boring carpet. Afraid of the wrath of building maintenance, I customize the interiors without painting the walls or making any crazy modifications.

This means hardwood flooring to help brighten the space, custom furniture, and personal hardware (known as the Jeff Hardware Budget).

Current office

Office4202

Customizations: Hardwood flooring. Plants. Glass desk. Speakers. 30” LCD. Lamps. Hanging art. Beer fridge. Color changer. Large chair and storage ottoman.

Corporate furniture: Guest chair. Hanging bookcase. Development workstation. Whiteboards.

RedmondOffices

Construction

Thanks to power tools, this took only about 3 hours of time one Saturday afternoon. These are IKEA “Tundra” floorboards, and once you get the hang of it, go in pretty easy. I decided not to finish the edges with molding, however – it’s just a temporary office adornment.

OfficeFlooring

Hammering boards into place.

Construction

Past offices

To see the progression over time… here are some past offices.

InteriorWithCouch 

Simple office in building 42, nothing but a notebook:

SimpleOffice42

How do Microsoft offices work?

Many of the buildings on the Microsoft campus have been designed from the start to optimize for windows, as opposed to cubicles and enclosed spaces. More recent buildings do tend to have more interior space, but still a sufficient amount of corners in the building to offer windows to many.

If you take a printout of an organization and order by “service award date” (the starting date of employment), you get the office seniority list.

As many as can at the top, will receive their own window offices. After that, interior but still private offices. And finally, the remainder will typically be “doubled up” in offices. For the record, I was tripled up when I first started at the company… that was fun.

Turns out it’s not always that simple, but in a perfect world that would be it … sometimes your organization may ‘hold’ office space; you can’t always be moving, so often smaller moves just go into ‘available’ space instead of displacing other workers; and people managers, even recent hires, need private space to hold candid conversations.

Anyway, hope you had fun reading about my office. RIP!

Jeff Wilcox is a Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft in the Open Source Programs Office, helping Microsoft scale to 10,000+ engineers using, contributing to and releasing open source.

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