We spend around 25% of our time at work. For those of us with an office job, that’s a helluva a lot of time breathing recycled air and baking under fluorescent lights.
When looking for a place to live, we tend to check out several places before choosing one. It’s a rare occasion when someone agrees to live somewhere without seeing the lay of the land first. Depending on our degree of thinking (or over thinking), we might even come up with a list of pros/cons on why one home is better than another. My point is that analysis is required. However, when it comes to work – a place where we spend more time than at home – we often never ask to see where we will be placed, and that could be a big factor in employee happiness and employee performance.
If a job meets our salary/benefits requirements, we sign up, and don’t see our workspace until day number one. Well, I believe that’s a mistake. A biggie!
In no way am I suggesting that it should be THE factor, but it could be a slice of the pie…one that’s large enough to be a tipping point for some.
Seeing where you will be working could help make the decision of whether or not to accept a gig. It serves another important purpose as well. Having an idea of what your new workspace looks like will help you visualize the job before you start. This can help alleviate first day of work jitters.
#1) The Size of Your Workspace
Whoever says size doesn’t matter is full of sh*t. One of the first things coworkers will notice about your job is the space you are allotted. They don’t get to see your resume or hear about your accomplishments, they only know what you look like and where you sit.
Some companies will be as extreme to count the number of ceiling tiles your position warrants (literally!). Middle manager? Here’s 6 across. Senior manager? Oh, you get 7. Other businesses will hand out workspace arbitrarily (this is not a good sign either).
The space you are given will determine how you are viewed within the organization. It’s not fair, but it’s true.
#2) The Location of Your Workspace
Ah, the coveted window. My first job issued me a glorious view of a major parkway. That was around 12 years ago; I’ve been fighting for another window ever since.
Windows are a sign of stature (see #1), but not everyone agrees that they are desirable.
“I freeze my as* off in the winter and melt away during the summer,” one of my coworkers tells me. “Sitting next to a window is overrated.”
Aside from windows, you will also want to know if there are any other “blocks” or common areas next to your workspace. Sitting next to the coffee room is a blessing for some, a curse for others.
I understand I’m extra sensitive to this topic. And if you were sat next to a toilet, you would be too!
#3) Who Are Your Workspace Neighbors?
I despise the bullpen approach to workplace seating. Before you start selling me on open communication and “tearing down walls,” I will admit that a big part of cubicle success is who you are sitting next to. Putting the marketing folks, who in theory should be regularly brainstorming ideas, next to the accountants (who NEED quiet to perform their jobs), is a disaster. Noise levels are a big part of what makes sitting in an office manageable or painful. Not every size fits all, and for me, I HATE working in a deafeningly quiet space.
#4) Workspace Visibility
It is this career blogger’s opinion that no one should have their computer monitor available for the world to see. Even the biggest work horse strays from the task at hand. And in this day and age, that means incessantly checking email, booking travel and scouring Groupon for the best deals possible. Any worker can attest that the second they click away from work, someone magically shows up behind them – and it’s often the boss! Privacy is important, and in my opinion, yields just as much work. Putting an employees’ computer activity on display for the entire company hurts morale and merely teaches staff to have a quick “minimize finger.”
During a recent job interview, I casually requested to see the area where I would be working. My advance was rebuffed, so I tried again, this time requesting a second meeting for a building tour. It was an “odd” request; the company made that loud and clear. But was I glad I pushed for it! The job, even though it had a slick title and great pay, slapped me right in the center of an Office Space-style cube farm. It simply was not for me. I couldn’t “see” myself there day-in and day-out. Needless to say, I did not take the job.
We spend A LOT of time in the office, I suggest you get a sneak peek before you sign on. We take a second look at almost everything these days, don’t be bahful about making the request of a potential employer.
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