I needed some extra room to work today, my office wasn't big enough (I sit in a little enclave and there's scant room on my desk to write). So I camped out in a break area, where two paths and a staircase intersect. I was planning out all the tasks for my group project, writing each one on a Post-It note and sticking it to a rolling white board. Too much fun for an engineer.
What surprised me by my plan was just how conspicuous and social my working area turn out to be. It helped that I was doing something peculiar -- who puts *sticky* notes on a white board, much less 50 sticky notes? I had at least a dozen people drop by and ask me what I was working on. It was great! I chatted with: two people I know from my puzzle hunt gaming circle; someone whom I met at KDD a few years ago and who hired on a couple of months back; my group VP; a grad school friend; someone in my training class last week; my mentee; and several other people.
I wasn't as productive in those hours as I would have been in isolation, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon. I need to practice this schema again. Having some physical-world work is key, though; just working on your laptop isn't inviting to passers by. It also was cool that I stayed away from e-mail and IM for the afternoon, for *that* reason I *was* more productive.