Today was a little bit of an odd day, quite bittersweet. It was the last time I’ll ever go to my office. Two years ago yesterday, I thought I was going to the office for the last time, as I had quit to stay at home with my wee ones (you see how well that worked out!), and everyone was there, celebrating and saying good-bye.
Today was different. As I got to work, I got the second parking spot in the lot. Walking inside, much of the building had no lights turned on, and it was eerily quiet. It’s a very odd sensation to walk into an office that had housed well over 1,000 people that now holds only a couple hundred.
The good news is that no, my company isn’t going under and no, I didn’t lose my job. My office is moving from our old building into a new one. We’ve known about this for three years, and it’s finally my group’s turn. People have been moving to the new facility since February, and we’re one of the last areas to move.
It’s been odd over the last several months. We had an art sale in December, and there has been no art on the walls since then. Giant shredding bins have been sitting out everywhere since January. For the last two weeks, large orange crates and rolls of bubble tape almost as tall as I am have lined the hallways. And today, I packed everything up.
Once upon a time, it took three of those orange crates to move all my stuff. Since I work part time now and am only in the office one day a week, though, I don’t have as much. And I accumulate much less in a year and a half than in 6 plus years! Plus, the new office has lots of rules that help keep our crates few in number.
Rule #1: No personal items at your desk. Seriously. No pictures, no comics, no promo items, nothing. Part of the reason for that is that the walls are only about four feet high, so there isn’t much room for those items. The rest of the reason… well, take a look at more rules.
Rule #2: No eating or drinking at your desk. Anyone who’s ever seen me at work knows that this will be an issue for me. I have a 40 ounce mug for water that I fill up and drink 2-3 times per day. I also bring in fruits and veggies to snack on a couple times a day when I get hungry.
Rule #3: No coats at your desk. They started out having two coat closets on each floor where we’re required to put our coats. They’ve since altered this to have one smoking closet and one non-smoking closet. Thank God for small favors!
Rule #4: No speakerphones. Actually, I’m good with this one. Really good with it. As I was trying to concentrate on a project plan I was developing today, I could hear a conference call echoing on at least three phones on my floor. If you have a conference call now, you have special rooms to go into that will allow for speaker phones. Otherwise, use your headset, people!
Rule #5: Share your desk! Since I’m in the office only one day a week, I don’t have my own desk. In fact, I share my desk with two other women who also work part time from home. They both come in either one or two days a week. One comes in Mondays and Wednesdays. The other comes in Thursdays. I work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. I generally come in on Wednesdays. Whoever the brainiac was to figure out this sharing arrangement needs to rethink this a little. I’ve heard the same issue from several other people who are (just now) starting to telecommute part time. I figure I’ll be using a touchdown cube about 90% of the time I do go to the office.
Rule #6: No personal electronics. That means no fans or heaters (a necessity in our old building, although they frequently blew various fuses). That also means no radios, which I’m ok with given the EXTREMELY open environment. Our SVPs don’t have offices. But that also means no iPods or other devices like that. When I’m trying to get into a groove at work and just want to shut out everything around me, guess what I turn to.
Rule #7: You must wear your ID badge at all times. I’m not a huge fan of this one. First, my picture on my badge is horrible – the guy was talking to me, and he got me mid-sentence. Then, they apparently didn’t make the images the right proportion, so instead of cropping, they stretched the photos vertically as evidenced by all the badges I’ve seen so far. Essentially, my badge photo looks like The Scream except that my mouth is somehow closed. Plus, we have to scan in and scan out to get the doors to open for us. Either security is competent or it isn’t, but I’m so not looking forward to wearing that badge. We’ll see how much it’s enforced.
Rule #8: No cash. If you want to buy something in the cafeteria, you have to use your ID badge to preload money or connect it to a credit or debit card. Fortunately, I cook a lot and generally have leftovers (which I eat at my desk while working to get my hours in…), so I rarely go to the cafeteria, but here’s hoping no one loses their ID badge!
Anyone care to take a guess how many rules I’ll be breaking on Monday when I go in to unpack my crate and figure things out with my cube-mates? I still haven’t figured out how every job I have puts me into a smaller space.
When I graduated college and working in management consulting, I had my own office with a door. In marketing, I had one of the big cubes with a curvy desk and two guest chairs. I moved to sales and got a smaller cube with a small desk and room for just one person. Now I’m down to a “pole cube” which means I have no chairs and a 2’x2’ pillar running through the middle of it. And yes, the space in our new office is somehow smaller.
As for now, I’m taking the parking sticker off my car and my old ID badge and trashing them (here’s hoping that’s not breaking any rules!). Anyone want to guess how far I go on my old way to work before I remember I’m going to a new location?