Posts tagged ‘office’
Summer is here and the annual exodus to the office’s lovely garden is in full swing.
Brainstorms, analysis sessions and even the odd client meeting are all being relocated outside. We haven’t quite reached a capacity crisis of towels-on-sun-loungers level yet, but it’s only a matter of time…
One thing that has annoyed me about every single agency I’ve worked for is that the office has looked like a cross between a teenager’s bedroom and an explosion in a paper factory.
No matter how smart or scruffy the actual building and furnishings were, it was still a bombsite. I’ve been to lots of my colleague’s homes and they don’t exactly live in pigsties, so why do so many agency types take no pride in their workplace?
We probably spend more of our waking hours in the office than in our own homes in an average week and yet many of us chose to squat in squalor 9-5. It’s just depressing – and it doesn’t say much to clients about how much pride we take in our work. Perhaps it’s supposed to be a sign of the crazy, funky, innovative, creative environment, or maybe it’s that no-one can be arsed to tidy up.
I think the rot must have set in around the time that desktop computers and photocopiers arrived. It was suddenly easy to generate huge quantities of paper and at the same time dispensed with the need for so many secretaries, who practically had ‘tidy and organised’ in their job descriptions.
Add to that the move to open plan offices with minimal storage facilities and I suppose being buried under three year old research reports and foam boards of pitches lost long ago was inevitable.
My current agency is very keen on moving desks a lot as departments expand and contract, which should have kept the mess down as everyone was forced to have a clearout each time they moved. In reality, it just created the Cupboards That Time Forgot, full of important looking stuff that no-one will claim responsibility for.
I know there is a school of thought that messy = busy = good. In these sober times, perhaps it really is all about appearances.
I’m guessing that 100 people (about half the office) have moved desks in the last 48 hours. We shuffle around so often that it’s a finely tuned machine. The blue packing crates arrive, the skip and recycling bins are filled, the moving muscle shifts furniture and IT switch everyone’s phones and computers round overnight.
I wonder if this constant rearranging is exclusively an agency trait. Its certainly been the case at every agency I’ve worked at. As a result I’ve always had a minimalist working area, my philosophy being to hang on to only as much as you can get in a set of desk draws and a single packing crate.
So maybe this constant rearranging has at its heart the perennial problem of storage in today’s designed-to-be-paperless-but-actually-drowning-under-paper office. If you move people often enough they can’t hoard stuff.
PS I have not moved. Still stuck outside the men’s loos.
One of the most popular searches that brings people to this blog is ‘welcome back to work gift’. Its my posts about my agency’s Happy New Year, Welcome Back After The Christmas Break gift giving that gets the hits, but it does seem to be a broader issue.
Over the years, I’ve come back to work twice after longish breaks for illness, so I think I’ve got a fair idea of what an agency type would ideally want on his/her return to the office (particularly from illness) – and its not necessarily an actual gift (although this desk turned Scalextric track is pretty cool):
1) Flexible working hours for the first few weeks – doing as much or little as they feel able until energy levels return – think about how hard it is to get through the first few days after the Christmas break and multiply it by ten to get an idea of the challenge energy-wise
2) No client meetings for at least the first week and no client meetings at the other end of the country for several weeks (see point 1)
3) Desk as he/she left it – not covered in mounds of competitor products, old creative boards or (worse) a freelancer who didn’t know they were coming back
4) First day coffee catch up with immediate boss and/or close team member on who has left/joined/had a baby and which clients have grown/shrunk/left/joined. Also a quick overview of what’s going on in New Business and how the agency is doing generally.
5) Time allocated in the first few days to wade through the email inbox (a great way to get an overview of what’s been going on) and catch up with colleagues
6) A workload that combines short, easily completable tasks with longer term projects that don’t have immediate urgent deadlines attached
Most of these points would apply to any business, not just agencies and I’ve been lucky enough to have the majority of the wish list above implemented both times that I returned to the office. Would you add anything else to the list?
I’ve moved desks (again) this week. I was a tad miffed to discover that I now have an excellent view of the men’s facilities.
However, the Fairy Plant and Cupboard Godmother has visited this morning.
In an effort to clear my desk following a hectic week I was one of the last out of the office on Friday night – but that is quite unusual for me.
There are always going to be the workaholics who are the first ones to arrive in the morning and the last to get kicked out by the cleaners at night. But I think that’s a flawed strategy.
What happens when there really is a crisis? Or a last minute pitch? If you’re working every hour possible, there isn’t any room for manoeuvre.
I’m not saying we should all work 9-5.30 with a full lunch break – and this industry that wouldn’t be seen as pulling your weight – just that we should get the important stuff done, do as much of the ‘nice to do’ as possible and go home in time to have a life outside the office. Spending at least some of our weekday evenings at dance class, taking the dog for a long walk, mowing the lawn or seeing the latest release at the movies makes us more interesting, productive and sane.
Then, if something really does kick off, you’ve got the time, enthusiasm and energy to attack it.
Listen up people, or you’ll end up like Amalah.