Pattern from Lyn Pemberton

Name:  Let people overhear

A pattern from office design which could be used as input to the design of a groupware system:


A current workplace design, e.g. in a control room of some sort,  allows co-workers to overhear each other's interactions, including telephone conversations, and sometimes to act on what they overhear. Sometimes this is trivial: the person on the telephone says "I'll just find a penů" and person B hands one to them. Sometimes a rapid response is vital, as when person B picks up from person A's urgent tone on the telephone that an accident has occurred. This often means a quicker response to critical incidents than if the person on the telephone had to explicitly relay the information to his/her colleague.


As in the preceding pattern, there are moves to introduce a system of small cubicles for workers.  This would mean that this benign overhearing was no longer possible.


Rethink the design and don't put people in boxes or out of eye contact or in completely soundproof headphones.


An example pattern prepared for the Usability Pattern Language Workshop at Interact '99