Creative Office Design

I just read an interesting article online, linked somewhere (I opened the tab for later, but now don't remember who showed it to me), about creative office spaces in use around the world.

I was flipping down through the pictures, and at first was thinking, hey, those are really kind of attractive, some of them. But as I scrolled down, I had a growing sense of unease.

I went back and looked again, to see if I could spot what it was. Can you? There are too many of relevance for me to want to re-post them all here, but the site is work-safe, and has no obvious triggers of which I'm aware (as ever, if I'm wrong, I will gladly apologize and seek to educate myself further).

Answer below...

Did you notice how many of them are nightmares of inaccessibility? If not - and I mean this gently but firmly - perhaps it's time to re-examine some privilege you might be looking with.

Notice how many of these celebrated designs would be horrid for someone using a wheelchair? Or a person with severe visual impairment? Or even trying to negotiate the cluttered and narrow halls with a cane, as I do. See how many chairs - especially in waiting areas, worst of all! - are utterly appalling for anyone with serious back issues? For anyone with limited mobility?

And even when it's only parts of the area which are inaccessible, like the otherwise lovely little cabins shown in a few of the pictures, making any part of your office inaccessible can make it inaccessible completely to an employee who doesn't have the privilege which is shown here to those with free mobility or all their senses (as in sight and/or hearing, I mean).

What does it say to your fellow employee that your office is inaccessible to them?

What does it say to a client or visitor that you set aside not one chair in your waiting area that takes into account that not everyone is physically able to sit vertically without support?

I can read off the defences people would make about this, were I posting it elsewhere: they have accommodations for their employed PWD elsewhere, they would make ramps into fellow employees' workstations available on-demand, they don't have anyone like that working there now, et c., et c..

I trust I don't need to explain to a Shakesville crowd how these clearly represent both question and answer, that each is a form of "othering" which serves to make it harder for non-TAB employees; that the lack of said employees is both a cause and an effect.

These are the little ways in which the message goes out: we want you to work, just not here.

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