Open Plan

| Niels ter Meer

Student columnist Niels ter Meer wants to do work, but that’s hard to do on campus sometimes. And no, he doesn’t think it’s his responsibility to buy noise-cancelling headphones to deal with all the distractions that come with open plan — he wants something better.


Remember my ‘campus menu’ plan? Work from home, and work on campus?  A little bit of this, a little bit of that? Somehow, even though per rooster I only have to be on campus two days per week, due to other obligations it’s regularly twice that. To make matters worse, it’s a little bit in the morning, a little bit later, a little bit in the afternoon. So if I want to actually do something, I need to find a place to work in between everything else.

So where do I go? Oosthorst? Super loud, plus everyone walking by all the time is very distracting. Horst ring? Same, but worse. Noordhorst then? Feels very cold and remote. Library? C’mon, that’s literally on the other side of campus and I have a meeting in an hour. Project rooms? Either fully booked, or I’ll get kicked out in two hours anyway. I just have to make due, I guess.

I don’t venture out of the Horst often, but I’m willing to bet that it is like this almost everywhere on campus. Be it the Horst, Carré, Ravelijn, Technohal — you name it — for us students, the university is layed out like one massive open plan office. They weren’t kidding when they said they wanted us all back on campus to meet each other — and apparently only do that. Did they forget about our coursework?

Because that’s the thing. In a (or at least my) master, a lot of what I do is no longer project related, but individual work for which I have to concentrate. My plan was thus to work from home most of the time. It’s quiet, there are at most a few people there and they don’t walk by all of the time. Food is close, and neither overpriced nor too fancy (let me be Dutch). It’s warm and comfortable. I can leave things there I don’t need for the next thing at hand. It’s my ‘office’, with a big-ish desk and a second monitor, plus a door I can close. The place to get stuff done.

I think all of this is regrettable. For some, going home to concentrate just isn’t an option, for whatever reason. We deserve more than just some random tables with plastic chairs (padded, if you’re lucky) with old janky tables. However, there is one place on campus which is getting there. It’s quiet, a bit hidden, with a lot of room, comfortable chairs and a second monitor. It still has issues, but it’s a lot better. I would want more of that.

Or, you know, an actual office. That would be very nice. Facility management, when can we talk?

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