Workplaces Revealed

Workplaces Revealed: Laura Kenyon, SUNY Geneseo

My workplace isn’t a home office; it’s an office inside a home. Roemer House, or as we call it, “Roemer,” is home to SUNY Geneseo’s department of College Communications.

Roemer House

My workplace isn’t a home office; it’s an office inside a home.

Roemer House, or as we call it, “Roemer,” is home to SUNY Geneseo’s department of College Communications.  We – colloquially known as “Roemerites” – are responsible for the College’s media relations, print publications, graphic design and web/social media strategy (me).  Roemer is a standalone building, just off campus, that, in days past, had been a fraternity house. (Insert joke of choice here.)

As a converted house, it’s not a typical office environment. We have an upstairs and downstairs bathroom (one with a shower replete with tropical fish shower curtain) and a full working kitchen –microwave, electric range, oven, refrigerator and sink with garbage disposal.  Offices are crafted from former bedrooms and open living spaces.

My cube: heweb workplace bingo. Rosie the Riveter poster? Check. “Keep Calm and Carry On” quote? Check. TNG internet joke mashup? Check. Nod to Doctor Who? Check. Wacky desk toys? Check. I’ve tapped into the hive mind a bit more than I thought.

Because Roemer is so obviously a place where people lived, it shifts the way we interact.

When you walk into a modern high rise office building — tall windows, polished marble, gleaming metal  — you’re inclined to stand up a little straighter, adjust your collar and put on your game face.

Walking into a house – flower beds, front porch, oven busy baking cinnamon rolls (yes, really) – you’re inclined to settle in, let the collar stay askew and let the defenses fall away.

If our department wasn’t in this house, I don’t think we’d work as cohesively and collegially as we do.  Naturally, the interplay of our personalities is a big factor.  But the working space makes just as large an impact.  If we weren’t frequently in one another’s spaces, if we didn’t share lunch in the “Roemer Dining Room,” or if we didn’t regularly migrate together to cross campus for meetings, we wouldn’t be the team that we are.

Our conference area/dining hall. Eating lunch together is an important and favorite part of the workday.

We do a lot of collaborative, creative, exemplary work, and we share a lot of laughter doing it.

In a little over a year, our department is slated to move from Roemer into a newly renovated Doty Hall where, for the first time, my entire division – The Division of College Advancement – will be completely housed in one place.  While I’m looking forward to that move – it should mitigate some departmental silo-ing – it’s bittersweet.  I’ve grown fond of Roemer and the tight-knit team it’s created, and I know that moving out of our house also means moving away from the way things are.

Reception area. My cube is right behind the wall next to the reception desk.
Welcome to the cube! C’mon in.
Behold the cube.

Unfortunately, my cube is not bigger on the inside.
The perfect office pet: low maintenance, quiet, doesn’t die when we forget to feed him.
That’s a warm pie on the oven – well, half a pie. The other half had been nommed with some vanilla ice cream kept on hand in the freezer.

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By Liz Gross

Liz Gross is the Director of Campus Sonar. Her professional super powers include designing and analyzing market research, applying social media strategy to multiple areas of the business, explaining difficult concepts in simple language, and using social listening to develop consumer insights and assist with reputation management. She received her Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education at Cardinal Stritch University.