FW: Do Technical Writers Deserve Their Own Office?

Subject: FW: Do Technical Writers Deserve Their Own Office?
From: Cheryl Dwyer <CherylDw -at- ATTACHMATE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 11:31:19 -0700

Having been in several office setups (a desk in the middle of the
developers, a shared cubicle, a separate cubicle, and my own office),
I can attest that each has its advantages and disadvantages. There is
also another factor to consider: how one ACTUALLY hears the
surrounding noise.

Without trying to ignite a battle of the sexes, I'd like to mention a
recent segment of the TV show "20/20." They featured a story on
findings that show that men and women absorb sounds differently. Their
researchers concluded that (most) men have a literal one-track mind
and can filter out all but what they want to hear, while (most) women
were bombarded with all of the sounds and their minds tried to
assimilate ALL conversations/sounds around them. (Maybe women are more
used to multi-tasking and our minds have adapted accordingly?!)

There were several research tests the "20/20" segment reported. One in
particular stood out in my mind: the simultaneous playing of two
recordings of different stories through a headset, with instructions
to listen to only one of the stories. The researchers found that most
men could, but most women couldn't: their minds continually tried to
follow BOTH story lines.

Keep in mind these ARE generalities, but my peers (both sexes) and I
discussed the segment's concepts at length during lunch shortly after
the segment aired and felt the findings were pretty close to the mark.
Not always, of course, but in general...

So it may depend on HOW a person deals with the surrounding
noise/conversations/sounds, keeping in mind job requirements (such as
the need to meet with others one-on-one on a daily basis), as to
whether or not moving into an office would be advantageous. In an
engineering environment, if you're not "living among" the engineers,
you should certainly mingle regularly and ask how things are going;
you'll usually get all the info you need. Weekly status meetings are
excellent, and remind them that email is a great tool for keeping you
informed of any changes. (A candy on my desk was also an incentive for
them to drop by.)

My own experience has been that most tech writers (of either sex) are
usually able to filter out noise, one way or another, when they
absolutely needed to do so. As others have posted to the list, there's
always the CD and earphones, but that didn't work for me... my first
choice would be my own office.

Cheryl Dwyer
Attachmate Corporation
Specialty Products Division
cheryldw -at- attachmate -dot- com

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