‘All the good spots are already taken’: the visual properties of interior social sceneries

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This article provides an ethnomethodologically informed ethnographic investigation of visually recognisable aspects of shared work spots in co-working office rooms. We focus on the phenomenon of holding a place in such environments, and document the participants’ practices which constitute distinguishing between empty and taken places. Our investigation leads to a conceptualisation of designed andad hocplaces, noting that objective assessments of rooms’ occupation status are problematic. We propose the notion of markers of presence, i.e. the material objects and their configurations, which participants use to indicate to others that a certain place is taken. Finally, we identify an observation area within the office space which participants recurrently use to assess the availability of work spots. We conclude by pointing out that rather than being tied to static features of material objects, the evidently visible occupational status of shared work spots is dynamically re-produced in participants’ ongoing courses of action.