A few weeks ago, it started, with the expected sign in the lobby that said, “Excuse our mess, we’re remodeling!” For that most part, that mess consisted of only a few packed boxes here and there.
The office had been open, with mismatched desks seemingly randomly placed throughout the “pit” of a room. That openness allowed us all to talk to each other or ask questions or to quickly see if someone needed time to do what they were working on. The disruptions and interruptions were frequent, but we managed to work together. I was the primary cause of the majority of disruptions and interruptions as I had to bring my people in from the front to take them all the way to the back where my desk was. I used the long walk back to "break the ice,” which was intrusive for some. The open floor plan was not very private, and fell far short of HIPPA requirements.
So, Monday started with a bang, with the movers coming for all the furniture early. Two of us worked in the computer room to do the “business as usual” while all the banging and clanking went on in the pit. Monday is the office’s busiest day, but we kept everyone flowing through. The usual computer glitches threatened that flow, but Tech Support came in the afternoon to fix it. Monday night, the carpets were shampooed.
Tuesday, the stress levels rose precipitously as the company contracted to build the cubicles didn’t deliver until much later than scheduled. When they did, piles and piles of boxes and shrink-wrapped stacks of wall panels were thrown every-which-way. It made the trek to the bathroom hazardous, to say the least.
I had Wednesday off, so I missed how they got those piles out of the way enough to start assembly, but a coworker forwarded me a few shots taken with her cell phone.
Thursday, things were coming together. At the same time, it was even more difficult to navigate through it all. The pit’s space was now partitioned and the walkways were still filled with parts and pieces, and if you had to pass anyone going the other way, it was tight.
Still, “business as usual” carried on, again with me in the computer room working away.
Thursday afternoon, the final delivery brought in all the chairs. I suppose that meant that all the cubicles should have been completed and all the office chairs put into each one as they came off the truck, but that didn’t happen quite that smoothly.
But, it wasn’t bad. Final touches were put in: baseboards, the wood shelf around the reception desk, the desks, shelves and drawers into each cubicle, and finally, some of the file cabinets and copiers put in their places. By 3:30, the workers left us to our own devices.
Now it was a matter of finding my own computer, phone, filing cabinet and files. Not one to fart around, I had my computer set up ASAP. I had only two boxes, one was the files that quickly slid back into the file cabinet, and the other held the accumulated pens, paper clips, notes, etc. that took just a bit longer to figure out where I wanted to put everything.
Friday, everyone else headed down to Central Office for the main Christmas Bash. I stayed back and held down the fort, working from my new “office.” It’s been awhile since I’ve had my own office, since teaching, and it felt “new” and shiny.
The first thing I noticed about working in the cubicle is that yes, it is much more private. The people I saw were much more relaxed and open with me. Along with that privacy came the feeling of isolation, which lasted until the others came back from the Bash. Then, I could hear their voices but never saw them. My walk with my people back to my office is now cut in half, and it’s a straight line with no one to bother as I chit-chat away.
I found it interesting to watch, when I had the chance, how everyone handled the stress. I had myself a temper tantrum that I resolved by quickly telling the offender that “I bend over backwards when asked, but will tell you to go to hell if you order me.” I may have been boiling inside, but my delivery was calm. On Wednesday, I heard about someone else blowing up, also with no residual damage. And, of course, the two managers were stressing and therefore avoided.
The coming week will be filled with everyone adjusting to this new working environment. It will take a major change in how the workflow is managed now that the visuals are nonexistent. Our safety is one thing that will rise to the top of the priority list as the kinks get worked out.
I’m sure I’ll have much more to observe and write about in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my new digs.