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  •   Personal Space
    Paying Occasional Homage to Self-expression in the Workplace

    Do you have a cool workspace? We'd love to see it and perhaps feature it in an upcoming TechThursday issue. Send e-mail nominations to:

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    Eleventh floor. Plenty of windows and nice light. Spacious offices with doors for privacy. Most Washington attorneys grovel for years to get digs like those at Web software developer IntraActive Inc., on Vermont Avenue, N.W. three blocks from the White House. But to code crunchers barely out of their teens, the notion of spending one's waking hours in the confines of an office can evoke Dilbertian nightmares.

    Instead, the half dozen programmers at IntraActive left the offices empty and opted for a more dorm-like environment: They knocked down some walls and now glom together in a windowless room across the hall, complete with well-stocked refrigerator and more than 1,000 CDs feeding the stereo. Average age: 23.

    "We don't have to have meetings anymore," said chief technology officer Justin Fidler. "Someone will ask somebody a question, and people turn around in their chairs if they want to join the conversation." InterActive chief executive Larry Schlang insists the move was done at the code-crunchers' request and not to save money on rent (he now leases the empty offices to a small law firm).

    A recruiting brochure promotes the lack of cubicles, dress codes and scheduled work hours. The company's motto, after all, is "Have fun at work." One hitch: Drones can't crank up the music until the tenant attorneys leave for the night-and in Washington, that's usually later than the programmers would like.

    In the Photo

  • IntraActive's private computer network, which also connects to workers' home computers via high-speed ISDN phone line.

  • White boards detail pending jobs and programming particulars.

  • Data flow charts describe aspects of specific projects.

  • Stereo CD player with more than 1,000 CDs. Includes stock of blank CDs so workers can record their own song compilations.

  • Refrigerator: Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke, Molson's.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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