Re: Private offices?

Subject: Re: Private offices?
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 1998 09:53:21 -0700

Dear Geoff Hart,

More than happy to post your message for you, Hands Across The Border,
This End Up and all the rest.

I need to say one thing, though: you've now met a writer who's had to
write well amidst a noisy mob, as I started out as a freelance
sportswriter while earning my journalism degree back in the 1970's. Try
keeping good notes in the rain while covering a high school football and
running down a muddy sideline or two sometime! =) Gospel according to
me. =)

That said, away we go...

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Geoff Hart [SMTP:geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca]
> Sent: Thursday, April 23, 1998 4:30 AM
> To: George -dot- Mena -at- esstech -dot- com
> Subject: Private offices?
> Greets!
> Since you hadn't heard anything about a doc group with a suite of
> private offices, here's a viewpoint from outside the cubes. Please
> forward my comments to techwr-l for further commentary (I can't post
> directly). Thanks!
> --Geoff
> *********
> George Mena had <<yet to hear of anyone actually making a suite of
> private offices available for the documentation group>>. Perhaps this
> is a Canada vs. the U.S. thing? I've held three jobs so far (IBM
> Canada, the Canadian Forest Service, and FERIC), and in each case,
> the documentation group had private offices.
> The discussion of the merits and demerits of privacy has gradually
> brought the important point to the fore, namely that writers need
> both quiet time and social time. I've met _no_writers who write
> well amidst a noisy mob, though most of us can function with quite a
> bit of background noise and distractions. Squirm though you will,
> only autistics can ignore all external distractions and show no
> productivity change, and even for them, that's a questionable
> assertion. The issue of knowing what's going on by living amidst the
> developers is a red herring. If you maintain any kind of ongoing
> relationship with these people, you'll be chatting with them daily or
> weekly, and not just about technical stuff. You simply don't have to
> be in their office constantly to make that communication work. The
> way I do it is that whenever it's time to take a break from my
> computer, I walk around the building and drop in to spend some
> quality time with the researchers I haven't visited recently;
> sometimes just a quick hello is all that's necessary, and sometimes
> I'm gone for an hour. The longer breaks are harder to justify, but
> they do make sure that the researchers think of me as more than just
> an annoyance... I'm genuinely interested in them as more than sources
> of technical information, and show it by making time to talk to them,
> and learn what's going on both at work and beyond. I also play
> volleyball and road hockey with several of them, and there's plenty
> of time to chat then. They also feel free to drop by at any time and
> chat, and my door is always open. This works like a charm. (This
> strategy used to be called "management by walking around", but since
> I edit rather than managing, feel free to coin new psychobabble for
> this.)
> Caveat: My main job is editing, and since I'm constantly jumping up
> and down on my colleagues' prose with (red) hobnailed boots, it's
> necessary to spend more time building relationships than would be
> required if I did more writing. But even when I'm writing the
> material myself and have to get the facts from them, those
> relationships serve me very well.
> --Geoff Hart @8^{)}
> geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
> Hart's corollary to Murphy's law: "Occasionally, things really do work
> right."

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