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Thread: What do planners wear to the office, what do the offices look like?

  1. #26
    Jul 2008
    Chi burbs, Illinois
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    RJ, you cannot wear white after Labor Day. People in polite circles will whisper about you. Winter white is OK, but only after the first snow. Breaking these rules is almost as bad as a lady attempting to wear an off-the-shoulder or strapless dress before sundown. It just isn't done.
    If I ever saw a man wearing white pants I would make fun of him no matter what type of circle I was in.

  2. #27
    Apr 2008
    American South
    I wear khakis and a button-down shirt M-Th and jeans and polo on Friday. I always keep a jacket and tie (that will match most anything) in my office 'just in case'.

  3. #28
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    Small, college-town city of 50,000 in Texas...

    Daily dress is business casual: khakis and a button-up shirt typically. Classic blue-shirt planner look.

    Meeting with elected/appointed Council/Commission: business professional (suit & tie)

    Friday: Nice jeans and a polo, with casual shoes (no sneakers, flip flops, etc.)

    I keep a khaki sport coat at work in case I for some reason need to kick it up a notch.

    I'm a mid-level manager with a private office. Office is probably 12x12, with a window into the hallway and a window looking out at the railroad tracks (I've seen one car hit since working here). I keep the blinds open to both windows--the interior so my co worker across the hall can have natural light spill in to her office (I also keep my door open for this reason, and so we can shout back & forth to one another). I have two HUGE lateral filing cabinets in my office. I have a U-shaped desk with a bookshelf. I have two guest chairs and a couple of plants.

    We are going to remodel our offices at some point in the near future to accomodate our multi-department reorganization, new employees, meeting rooms, and more efficient document storage (I'm working on designs). I anticipate we will end up with cubicles for many employees, but I will try to design them with good access to natural light, comfort & privacy, etc.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #29
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    My current office is typical - 12x12 with a wall of windows overlooking the street out front. Previously it was the loft in my house in Colorado, with a wondow from which I could see the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. Before that, another 12x12 space with fortress-like slits for windows, overlooking a park. Going further back I was in a 20x25 spce with 16-foot ceilings, oak paneling, shelves, and a fireplace. These are exceptions. I think it is a rule, though, that most planning offices have to be located in a basement, have exposed, asbestos-wrapped pipes hanging from the ceiling, buzzing flourescent lighting, and furniture that was surplus from World War Two.

    As for dress, it is pretty much casual. This is getting to be true for most jobs in most places.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #30
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
    Mar 2006
    Machesney Park, IL
    We wear jeans in my office, with nice shirts. And I'll wear slacks or chinos if I am going to a meeting or something. But, at the other two jobs I had we only got to wear jeans on "casual fridays". At my job now we each have our own office with windows. But, we are in the partial basement of the old section of the courthouse, so out my window I have a nice view of a retaining wall. There are a lot of books piled up, but that is mostly up by the receptionist desk, near the map table. Our furniture doesn't match, and much of it doesn't function properly. And the radiators under each window making a rattling sound.

    From my experience.. the more metropolitan the jurisdiction, the more likely you'll be in a newer state of the art building. But, the downside is that you'll also likely be in a sea of cubicles.

  6. #31
    Sep 2008
    San Diego, CA
    We're pretty casual at our So Cal office, M-Th slacks button down shirts and jeans are okay on Friday. We only need to dress more professional for client meetings, presentations at public meetings and the like.

  7. #32
    Jan 2007
    How we dress here:
    Pretty much anything that resembles business casual goes as long as it is not jeans (until Friday then jeans are a go). If we have a meeting the lady planners (myself included) step our outfit up a bit and put on some makeup. The guys will don a sweater vest over their polo for a meeting and if it is court or commission they will break out a tie.

    Our office:
    Standard drab government office. Most all of us have offices (10x10), a few are larger and one of them houses two planners. Our arborist is stuck in a cube. The furniture is a lovely eclectic mix of 70's government surplus. Nothing in my office matches and my walls look a bit skanky due to a lack of spackling and re-painting. We all have lots of stuff in our offices that reflects our personalities as well as unwanted junk from previous tenants.

    None of our offices have windows but we do have plenty of fluorescent lighting to cast its cheery rays across our workspace.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    We typically wear business clothing to work, but compared to the other tennants in our building we a definitley more casual (Lawyers, consultants.) We are expected to be able to attend meetings at a momment's notice. The local shops selling ties seem to know our male staff. Since this is Detroit, it is not unusual for male staff to wear hats ranging from Fedoras to ball caps to touques in the winter. If you don't know what a touque is, you live too far from Canada!

    My office is a cubical of about 10' by 12'. The building itself is a gothic gangster type of building from the roaring 20's. It is one of the more cooler skyscrapers in Downtown Detroit. The floors we occupy were redesigned for our needs about 8 years ago and contain several meeting rooms. The building was seleted because it is a short walk from most transit lines in the CBD, and even next to a People Mover station. I was able to get a walk around prior to demo, and the floors were previously a hodge-podge of tiny old office suites or poorly done mazes. Nearly everything was demoed, though I would have loved to have one of the old offices with the window up top and my name on a glass door. Everything flows pretty well on my floor and it is defintely set-up for more casual work relationships. The view out my window is of an alley and the building across the alley. Sometimes I get to hear the bums fighting about stuff in the dumpster.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Dress: business casual (polo shirts and khakis), suits and ties for big meetings, no jeans

    Office: modern downtown bank building turned city offices (reflective glass and stucco), we each have our own office (10x10) with very large windows and mahogany-colored furniture.

  10. #35
    Oct 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Dress: Monday through Thursday is typically business attire, usually nice slacks and a long sleeve shirt. Depending on who we are meeting with I will either wear a tie or a full suit. If we are meeting with architects or designer types I will wear the suit sans tie. Fridays is usually nice jeans, loafers/slip-ons, and a button down shirt, sometimes with a blazer if its cool out.

    Office: We are located on the 11th floor of a downtown high rise building. Since the management of the firm would foremost consider us to be an architecture and design firm, all of our offices have been designed by our in-house interior designers to look the part. All of the office furniture is provided through Ikea Business and the few pieces that aren't Ikea have been custom designed to look like it. Therefore everything is very modern and angular. Workspaces consist of corner desks, a bookshelf, and a layout table. Associates and partners all have offices with large exterior windows and a front glass wall which allows lots of natural light into the office. Since the workspaces have low walls we can all get a view of "the outside" just by turning around or poking our heads up over our monitors.

  11. #36
          abrowne's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Interesting reaction to white pants through this thread!

    Mid-sized city and the dress is fairly casual because of the personality of the City as a whole. Friday is jeans and a polo. Some even wear untucked all week long, though I don't condone that. Most days are some sort of dress pant or business casual pant with a button down collared shirt. Ties are extremely rare, only worn by the General Manager (he is above the Director of Development Services), and only occasionally at that.

    My cube is fairly large and rectangular. I'd say 6' by 12' or so. Office building is early to mid 80s in construction, or it has aged especially well and is from the late 70s. No openable windows which drives everyone mad. Offices with doors tend to be surprisingly small in size and often a disadvantage because of solar gain. It is policy of the City that all new employees get plants given to them for their desk. It's cute, and I appreciated it.

    I have 2 under-desk filing cabinets (4 drawers total) with another under-desk unit with 2 drawers and 1 more file drawer. Have a decent dell computer and a laser printer. Two huge overhead bins for active files and bylaws, plans, etc. Desk space is adequate in lineal distance but as usual I find it too shallow in depth. I prefer deeper desks.

    I should just post a photo.

    One nice touch is that there is an open alcove with hangers for coats and jackets. This has been a definite shortcoming of past offices I've worked in.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
    Mar 2005
    In a 480 square foot ex baseball nacho stand
    We are in a 1913 former school, planning staff is in the basement. I have a 9' x 11' office with a window that looks to our rear parking lot and vacant lot (covered by kudzu) beyond that. The two other planners share a 12' x 32' office.

    Wear slacks and polo/button dwon shirt during the week, but allow jeans and polo on Fridays. Wear tie for meetings and presentations. Have sport coat on back of door for "surprises" a.k.a. unscheduled meetings.

    Beats cubeland from the private sector.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  13. #38
    Dec 2006
    My office: 10"x12", large window, 10' exposed wood ceilings, exposed air ducts, piping, and window trim are all forest green. I don't have partitions, but rather 1' thick white walls 7' in height capped by a wood trim. Plenty of wood bookcases (half of the planning library collection is in my office, the rest is in the actual library here). I have two desks, one is on rollers, both wood (so pretty nice in general). I would post pics but I can't seem to attach files to posts anymore.

    Attire: business casual M-F. Ecologists are more likey to wear jeans if they are out doing fieldwork. Will wear suits for evening meetings, meetings with clients, conferences, etc. We have a very "unofficial" casual Friday, which the owners are trying to get rid of. Most of my jeans, t-shirts, hoodies are new but they have a very beat up/distressed look so I don't wear that in the office unless I come in on the weekend.

  14. #39
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
    Jun 2005
    In my own little bubble
    I always where business attire, except with a personal funky twist i guess, with fun jewellery, hair accessories, colours, funky shoes etc.

    I always look presentable, but i would say unique! I am not afraid to wear dresses to work either!
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  15. #40
    Aug 2013
    United States
    I work in a college / Navy town in Texas just under 30,000.

    Mon - Thur: Typical business attire. I usually mix up the colors a bit.
    Friday: Semi-casual day. Jeans and a City polo or dress shirt with no tie.
    City Commission Days, we wear suit & tie to the meetings.

    Office dimensions: 12'x15'
    Windows: Two (2) 5'x8 full length windows
    Dropped Ceiling
    Office Door & Private half-bathroom
    Currently working with architect to design & plan a new city hall.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
    Jul 2009
    Mid-size Texas city (~105,000)

    M-Th: Business casual, jacket and tie required for boards and commissions
    F: Polo and jeans

    Office: 10x6 private office. Window looking at downtown skyscrapers. Everyone has their own office.
    Join me and the other planners at www.PlanningPeeps.com

  17. #42
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries
    Old thread, I know.

    In my experience, the larger and/or more affluent the city, the more formal the work attire. County planning agencies tend to be more casual than cities.

    Where I work now: suburb of an iconic college town, population about 20K. Generally, it's Friday business casual all week. At public meetings, I wear a button down shirt and khakis, no tie. Jeans are okay on Friday, on days when field visits are expected, and in moderation through the week, if there's no public meetings. Because it's a college town, the only people I really see in suits are lawyers and those working in finance.

    Office space varies. I work in a historic Beaux Arts building that was originally designed used as a post office. It was restored and repurposed as a town hall. Because the building footprint is square, and ceilings are very high, most of us are in 8'x8' cubes. In my last job, the office was in a retail storefront in a strip plaza next to city hall. I had a fairly large private office. It's something of a trope that planning departments are usually located in basements or annexes, and my office history confirms it.

    1) Annex, office.
    2) Courthouse, basement, cubicle
    3) City hall, cubicle
    4) Town hall (100+ year old storefront), makeshift space
    5) Annex, office
    6) Annex, office
    7) Town hall, cubicle

    A quirk that I've seen only in New York: a city or town hall doesn't have to be physically located in its municipality. My workplace is an example of one of those misplaced town/city halls.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  18. #43
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    We moved!

    New space is in a retrofitted 1960's high rise in the absolute center of town. It overlooks Campus Martius (check out APA) We occupy two floors in the mid-teens. Floor to ceiling windows, Cubes have shrunk to 6' by 6' with short dividers. Everyone has the same sized cube, even the Executive Director. Yes this means a lot of noise, but to mitigate those we have installed white noise generators. Also the entire office is wireless and we have switched from having desk phones and desk top computers to laptops. If you need quiet space the place is full of 'huddle' rooms which can fit 2-4 people.

    The result is a wide open, very airy environment. Over the weekend I checked facebook to see that someone I knew from High School/Growing up attended a conference in our space. How did I know this? She posted pictures of downtown that were taken from our conference room, no mention of where. The views are phenomenal.

    This space was very cheap to build but the results are amazing.

  19. #44
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Jan 2009
    Remote command post at local bar
    As a county planner, my dress is mostly casual. Slacks and a shirt, no tie. In the summer I'll start wearing polo shirts (mmmm summer).
    I'll wear a suit if I have to present to the county commission, but that's about it.

    The office is a good size with windows and everything. There's just me and an assistant. I do have a sink in my office for some unknown reason. I can't say my history of offices has been bad like Dan's. I've always worked in a place with windows and except for one boss felt like planning was an important department not to be relegated to the basement.

    Then again, most places I've worked have had newer facilities or in the case of my current office, there's almost no choice but to have a window on my floor. It could be worse though, I could have IT's hole. It's the only partially windowless hole in the building. It has those half windows that you can see people's feet out of.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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