What’s ‘mine’ is ‘mine’… Always


A desk worth protecting?

I’ve recently been away from the office for a few days and being a good citizen I cleared my desk and left a big note on it informing people that as I was out of the office people should feel free to use ‘my’ desk.

According to my colleagues, this should have caused me anxiety and at least one of them told me they wouldn’t feel comfortable having someone else sitting at ‘their’ desk.

I asked ‘why?’ and re-discovered a level of crazy in Local Government workers I had almost forgotten.

You see, a local government worker is unnaturally attached to their desk. Attempts to encourage staff members that hot desking is a more sustainable method of organising an office area are more likely to be met with staffing uproar than redundancies.

I’ve never really understood it.

I accept that there are practical reasons: A social worker once told me that there was no way she would accept hot desking because if she needed to write up notes and couldn’t get to a desk then it would risk her missing appointments etc. She also reckons social workers tend to be in the office at the same time. I didn’t particularly buy this but fair enough.

Then there are sentimental reasons: Alternatively this can be because of a desire to fill your desk with personal items or photos or simply because some of us spend more time at our desk than we do in our house awake.

However, the final reason is the one which I think underpins all this: People have lost a little perspective about their workplace. Many people genuinely believe that the desk belongs to them and anyone else sitting there might destroy some weird sense of equilibrium that supposedly keeps their working life in check.

They pile the table with old reports like they would their spare bedroom, they cover it with 2 year old paintings done by their son (one assumes that since he’s gone to secondary school his painting has improved a better painter now but that’s not the point), line up their multiple coffee mugs (is one not enough?) and clean it with a regularity that would make their wives very impressed. Finally, the more obsessive ones leave notes on the chair telling people not to change the very specific settings they have it at (you’d never catch them doing that with a car but there we go).

Me, I like to sit in different seats to get a different view of the office and find tidying up my desk at the end of the day to be quite therapeutic… But I’ve always been a bit odd!
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