You walk into your office, and you see one of your junior executives sitting on your chair and working on his laptop or even conducting a meeting – and its dead serious work. Most of us would be narrowing our brows, scrutinize what is he doing on ‘MY’ chair and cubicle for that matter, and then through our body language we will be ‘yelling’ at them to move – till they get the cue to move out of ‘personal’ space at work. You will, won’t you?
The reason behind this is we are extremely possessive about our spaces and things at work – be it chairs, tables, cubicles, tea-cups, coffee-mugs, and even tissue boxes! This obsession keeps on amplifying with each promotion you receive. It’s a behavioural issue – typically an intern will be least bothered about where he/she sits, but ask a senior manager if he will be happy to make an intern work sitting on his chair – the answer will be typically in the negative.
There is this huge room at my office where the Editor-in-Chief sits – that’s her designated room when she is around and also when she is away. The room is bright, has huge white sofas, has a small library and has a clear view of the rapid metro lines where you can see the trains moving in-between stations. On one particular day, circumstances were such that in order to finish one of our very urgent stories, my team and I went and started working in her room – her work-table was where we kept our laptops and sat on one of her chairs. We were so engrossed in writing that we didn’t realise when she came in, dropped her belongings on those white sofas and went about in her normal work in office. When she probably came in to the room for the second time, we realised our folly and we exclaimed that probably she is the first one not to be so possessive about where she sits. Her reasoning out to us was what made me write this blog – “If the work that you are doing, sitting there, is productive, then please sit whenever you can, because that’s why you are here – to do great work.”
Contrary, one of my colleagues shared his view about the same situation he faced in one of his previous organisations. He was supposed to conduct an interview, and on the same day, in their office conference room, there was an important meeting going on – basically all the office enclosed rooms were occupied. The only room available was that of the boss’s – so he decided to take the interviewee in that room (the idea behind was, at least the person who might be the potential employee should not feel unwanted even at the start of the interview). While the interview was on, the Boss came in and got the shock of his life, which showed on his face, his attitude and also the way he reacted to my colleague later on. He could not get over the fact that ‘someone else’ was sitting on his chair – it never mattered to him that it was an important work.
Every boss is different – and they have different quirky ideas and bossy behaviour. But an open office responds with more productive work culture wherein you are not contrite in expressing your thoughts. The idea is not to reprimand somebody when he/she is being productive – not reacting to such incidents will help in developing trust and respect which go a long way to increase business topline.
Being employees, it’s not that we misuse the independence our Editor-in-Chief has given to us. We don’t really go to her room to purposely sit on her chair and work – that’s not what the idea of this blog is. The fine-balance is what is required – to know when to do what.