The Financial Times offers a snapshot at the secret conversations of the characters who populate the modern workplace. In this edition, we have the Worried Worker and the Vice-President. Suffice to say, there are quite different things on their minds.
Katherine, the worried worker:
Our new offices are rather snazzy. Is this really my desk? It's fan-bloody-tastic. What a terrific view. The company must value me, after all. I've been worrying all these years they want to get rid of me and then this! It's so quiet. I'll get loads of work done! So productive!
Yep, Ted, I see you looking at my desk, your eyes greener by the minute. Oh God, is he going to try a power grab? Better put my jacket over the back of my chair, mark my territory.
Does my outfit look shabby in this office? Better make a bit more effort with my clothes, try to raise my game. Shape up or ship out.
This view, all those people scurrying around. They look like ants from up here. We're so insignificant. Did I say that out loud? I'd better not have. I don't need everyone to think I'm insignificant.
I shouldn't look out of the window. Must keep focused. Pretty sure they'll realise they've overspent, start looking for cuts ... And the lobby?! Ridiculous. They could fit at least 20 desks in there, maybe even sublet it to Workhouse for a co-working space? Might just send an email with that idea to our chief executive — Kevin-my-door's-always-open (except, it looks shut) Trindall — make myself indispensable.
Now I think of it, my desk is pretty far from the centre of power. Maybe they are trying to tell me something?! Oh God, I'm being managed out! If I lose my job, we'll lose the house. The kids will never speak to me again if we move out of the city. They're too old for rural life, they'll end up vomiting pink alcopops over the village green. Our new neighbours will hate us. I should probably put this family photo in the drawer. New start. Don't want to look uncommitted. Be the ideal worker, be the ideal worker.
Best go and sit in that bank of hot-desks near the top team. Make myself visible, remind everyone who I am. None of that management flannel about results over presenteeism. I know what really counts.
James, the vice-president:
Hi, is that Pete? Facilities Pete? James Tallpoppy from Shafters, here. Floor 90, that's right.
Look, there's been some kind of mistake here. There's no way to put it politely: you've screwed up the office configuration.
As a VP, I not only do a huge amount of one-on-one client work, I also have some of the thorniest personnel decisions under my control.
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So, it stands to reason I have to be the exception to the open-plan rule I myself laid down in the April memo to my team, right?
I have to make a lot of sensitive calls from my phone. I can NOT be overheard. We had a hacking incident a few months ago with one of my back-office team. Turned ugly but I managed to close it down without damage to the firm's reputation. We can't afford a repeat. Confidentiality is paramount.
As for where I'm sitting, Steve Snipe, VP of supply chain, has slightly more space around his desk. Don't argue with me, Pete — I've measured it. Anyway, Steve's on sabbatical until August, so I've taken his spot while you sort out a proper office for me.
Yes, well, that's just the problem, Pete. It's in your tone: lack of respect for rainmakers. You need to take a long, hard look at the Operations Planning 500 Ranking for 2016 and see who tops it. What do you mean, "who?" Me, of course!
So don't tell me I have to do the hot-desking nonsense with the others. You'll be asking me to lead by example on work-life balance next!
Just get up here, pronto, and sort out the cabling — I need four screens, not three. And while you're at it, get into the room-booking system and override the numpties who booked the George S Patton Room for a "mindfulness" session. Block out the afternoon for me and HR. We need to get cracking with downsizing if we're ever going to save enough money to pay for the refit you're about to carry out.
Written by: Emma Jacobs and Andrew Hill
© Financial Times