We moved offices last week so the end of the preceding week was taken up with colleagues rediscovering long lost artefacts and remnants of times gone by as they emptied desk drawers and cupboards. Bottles of wine, champagne and some very nice chocolates were among the more popular items discovered, and in some cases, consumed.

It was quite heartening to see that some of the material we use today clearly has its roots going back several years and has therefore stood the test of time very well. Equally there were some examples of previous ‘good practices’ that are now deemed so archaic it couldn’t possibly have been us that created it……could it?

The experience was enlightening, interesting and judging by the amount of refuse generated, quite a cleansing one too.

I was fortunate enough to be excluded from this ritual for a couple of reasons. Firstly I claim to have an ‘allergy’ to printing through which I challenge myself to not print material unless I really have to. Secondly as a contracted resource for a specified time period I don’t build up the years of clutter as I would if I was an employee. Some guys could quite honestly do with a shed in the office to store all their ‘might come in handy one day’ items.

Now the reason for the move is to take us into one of these modern working environments. You know the kind of thing, save on costs, save space and be more efficient through the use of hot desks so no one has an allocated desk – you can sit wherever you want, or where you can, within your designated neighbourhood. The model works on the premise that fewer desks than people are needed because not everyone is on site each day.

I was very interested to see how this was going to work and to witness people’s behaviours and the dynamics. I’d heard lots of stories, good and bad. We’re a week in now so here are some initial observations.

I get into the office early so I get to choose where I sit – I’m liking that! I’m not sure how I should interpret the situation if colleagues who arrive after me choose not to sit next to me – does that give me a measure of whether I am popular and liked?

We are generally creatures of habit so people have settled into sitting at their preferred desks each day. Interestingly small teams or clusters of people who sat together previously are doing the same again now, which one would expect, but in exactly the same layout as before i.e. colleague A sits to the right of B who sits opposite C and so on. Maybe they had the optimum layout previously or maybe they just like the comfort.

The team members arriving last are the ones experiencing the biggest impact as they have to fit in where they can. Was this always a plan to encourage people to come to work early?

Although it’s a hot desk environment, so in theory one can sit anywhere, there are defined neighbourhoods for each team thereby restricting and defining the zones and number of desks available. You must stay within your neighbourhood and if you dare to encroach into someone else’s you will get moved off their turf. Not quite gang warfare but teams are definitely precious about their territory.

Is it better or worse? Possibly a bit early to make a final judgement. It’s work. I can do what I need to do and certainly as a contractor I’m not bothered so much about where I sit. I need to collaborate with colleagues so it can be frustrating if we cannot have the instantaneous cross desk discussions through not being able to sit close to each other – additionally the biscuit supply is sometimes out of reach which I guess could be a good thing from a health perspective.

As with any change, the well-known change curve was visible in people’s behaviours leading up to the move and I’m sure some colleagues are still working their way through this.

Ultimately the changes are for the benefit of the organisation so the measures of success will be derived more from savings achieved than colleague satisfaction levels. I will be interested to see the figures as and when they come out.

October 26, 2014 at 7:54 pm
Return to All News
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,