Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rearranging the deckchairs

A pink deckchair
I've had a lot of conversations recently in which managers have assured me that they're determined to do more to sort out my working arrangements than to just 'rearrange the deckchairs.' And it's certainly true that no collapsible furniture has shifted, but then neither has anything else. As a result, I've had time while sitting in other people's offices to reflect on the effect of chairs and their arrangement.

The managers I trust the most go for the sideways option. Their desks and chairs are placed so that they are sideways on to anyone coming in through the door and they can move easily into the neutral space of the rest of the office. On the other hand, quite a few opt for the 'sitting behind the desk' arrangement. That works if there is enough room at the side of the desk to make a rapid move to a more informal seating arrangement at the front of the office but it's a shame when they hide behind the desk, using it as a defensive barricade.

But what can you make of the guy who hunches over a tiny desk at the back corner of the office, keeping his back to the visitor for as long as possible, offering his visitor nothing more than a perch on a 'star chamber' typing chair nowhere near a flat surface? As a chess player, this makes me think of a castled king. Safe, defensive, conservative. And I feel like the pawn on an open file; I feel I have potential for greatness but I'm also wondering when a rook is going to swoop down and remove me from the board. I'd give anything for a deckchair.

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