Wednesday, May 13, 2009

offices for fieldwork

In environmental consulting, office locations are occasionally selected because the building/office space looks like a nice place to bring clients (important, I will grant) and not in order to facilitate fieldwork.

So what would facilitate fieldwork?

The first thing would be a location fairly accessible to store stuff. Someplace preferably on the first floor, and with doors that can be held open so that you’re not constantly crashing into them with large, heavy, and/or angular objects. Also, carpeting is bad for storage. Batteries can leak acid, samples can break, and some test kits and sample preservatives have special storage requirements (i.e. a flammables and/or corrosives cabinet).

The other storage issue is vehicles. If you had a big van or worse, a box truck, you needed enough parking space to store it. And the parking lot had to be secure enough to leave your own vehicle for weeks at a time without worrying about it getting damaged or hauled away by suspicious office park management types.

The other consideration is how to get rid of stuff. In consulting, we always ordered a bunch of consumable items. Gloves, sample bottleware, packing material…and if we had a subcontractor who produced a lot of stuff and nowhere on-site to dispose of it, then the amount of trash could get pretty impressive. So we needed to have access to a dumpster…something that not every fancy office building has.

There’s a simple solution. When you need to move to a bigger space (or more likely in this economy, you need to move somewhere smaller to save on rent), ask your employees what they need in a future office.

1 comment:

C W Magee said...

Another method is to keep all the field related stuff in a separate lockup storage, warehouse, etc. which is closer to your field site. This way, the office can be smaller and dedicated to dealing with business type stuff, and the mud is tens to thousands of kilometers away.