Workplaces Revealed: Jeff Stevens, U of Florida

view of office with computer, desk

Nestled between the classrooms of Turlington Hall, the Office of Communications and Outreach for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is located in the best place to accomplish its mission. It’s literally the heart of campus and is full of energy. Faculty and students can drop by in between classes. The view from my desk includes a view directly down onto Turlington Plaza, where many of the student-driven events take place. From here I can see everything from flash mobs to step dancing to zombie attacks and student protests. The campus carillon tower is across the street and provides our office with random performances of classical music and modern interpretations. Last spring break we rocked out to School’s Out by Alice Cooper.

Being a small team with large responsibilities, we have to quickly establish ourselves with our clients as knowledgeable, easy to work with, and fully invested in their goals. Our office helps ease clients’ anxieties when coming to us. We use a neutral color scheme of earthy colors to create a calming atmosphere. Our front area, used for large client meetings, has a display of artwork, photography, and examples of past projects to define the space as a creative work area.

front office

This is Communication and Outreach's front office, set up for our intrepid interns.

Office bookshelf with lots of toys and comics

A larger view of the office's hidden nook.

Jeff with his comic book display

Truth be told, I'm more wholesome than the comic books.

Stepping into my office is like stepping into a comic book store. I started small-scale, primarily bringing in posters and action figures because there was no place to display them at home. It’s swelled into a slightly overwhelming display. But, I’ve found that it actually serves a valuable purpose–it serves as an ice-breaker for initial meetings and gives us a common frame of reference to work.

Almost everyone who comes into my office can connect to something in there, whether it’s an icon from a favorite movie or favorite cartoon as a child, or it’s an item that someone’s children or grand children enjoy. The vibe I’ve created helps us overcome that first hurdle in talking to one another and allows me not to come off immediately as a professional that will be speaking technical jargon over their heads.

action figures on desk

My web team doesn't seem to get anywhere. I suspect the project manager, or that guy right behind who thinks this all happens by magic.

shelf full of action figures

Cobra Commander's Plan to take over the world with a large mustachiod man on a Beetle was foiled by SHIELD.

shelf full of office toys

Raisin X: Bet this is Marvel's next concept series.

I work using a fairly ancient Apple G4 with a cinema display screen. I have a new iMac I intend to transition to using but have not yet had a chance. To the left of my screen sits a small framed print of Dylan Wilbanks’ takeaway from Higher Ed Web 2010: “Love higher ed. Love the web. Love people. And yourself.” It’s right next to the phone, in case I need to reference it quickly while on a call.

comic book panel reads -- Devil, take Hero to TomaWORKPLACES EXTRA: This is my favorite piece in my office.

I rescued it from the trash heap downstairs when they cleaned out an old imaging department. To me, this single panel represents the challenges of communication – bringing together various groups with differing ways of communicating and finding a common ground for engagement and connection.

Plus, the wolf said okay, which is awesome.