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Level Up: Surviving the “open-concept office”

Comfort, Ties and Apps

May 1, 2014

by Alberta Venture Staff

The Good Life Feet First Level Up Boarding Pass
PHOTOgraph Ryan Girard
Quiet Time

Whether it’s because they promote better workflow, help build bonds between colleagues or just save employers money, open-concept offices are growing in popularity. But working in one of them? That’s a different story. And while having to smell your neighbour’s lunches – you know, the one who has poached fish every day – or look at their messy desk is bad enough, the noise they generate while working can actually interfere with your ability to get your own done.

Mercifully, you don’t have to endure their awful jokes or their excruciatingly deferential phone manner any longer. Just pop on a pair of noise cancelling headphones, let them do their thing and it’ll be like that person doesn’t even exist. They can range in price from less than $100 to more than $350, but the best of the bunch comes – not surprisingly, perhaps – from Bose. Its QuietComfort 15 model is widely regarded as the gold standard, while its QC3 version (nearly as good) also offers rechargeable batteries.

Mood Music

If you feel like doing more than just blocking the blather, try listening to one of these selections. They’ll calm your nerves, crank up your productivity and help you forget the fact that you don’t have a door or a proper set of walls – for a while, anyways.

yob_comfort_story2 Take Care, Take Care, Take Care,
by Explosions in the Sky
yob_comfort_story3 The Greatest Video Game Music,
by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
yob_comfort_story4 Textures
by Brian Eno
Why Knot?

yob_comfort_story5Maybe you’re a four-in-hand kind of guy. Maybe you’re partial to the half Windsor. Or maybe you rock an old-school full Windsor. Either way, you’re probably using the same tie knot that you’ve been using for years – even decades. It’s time to switch it up.

Meet the Pratt-Shelby knot, so named because it was worn by US Chamber of Commerce employee Jerry Pratt for two decades before television personality Don Shelby wore it on the air. Unlike every other knot its starting position is reverse side out, and it’s perfect for taller men or those sporting shorter ties. And where the four-in-hand tends to produce an asymmetrical knot and the full Windsor a comically oversized one, the Pratt-Shelby yields a symmetrical knot of medium thickness. In other words, if Goldilocks had been trying
on ties, she’d have settled on this knot – it’s just right.

What’s App?
The app: reporter

We’re living in the age of big data. And whether it’s helping your favourite professional sports team assess players more effectively (excluding the Edmonton Oilers, it seems) or traffic planners minimize your morning commute, it’s shaping virtually every aspect of your life. Now, there’s an app that uses the power of big data to describe – and analyze – your own day-to-day behaviour. It’s called Reporter, and it uses randomly timed surveys to “illuminate aspects of your life that might be otherwise unmeasurable.” Who do you spend the most time with? How much are you sleeping? How many minutes do you really spend exercising? The more surveys you fill out, the more data you collect – and the more you’ll know about the habits and routines that you take for granted.



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