Flexi Desking Kerfuffles…

Today’s significant adventure at work was the move to get everyone to flexi-desk.

I recall a few years back that it was impossible to obtain permission to work from home.  It was treated with suspicion, colleagues would glare at your audacity for even asking and there was always some snide comment from someone, “sure, yeah right – you’re “working” from hoooome” accompanied with a sly wink.

Today they couldn’t get rid of us fast enough.  They may as well have thrown the laptops, backpacks and locker keys towards our direction and just yelled out, “Hurry up! What are you still doing here? Go. Go! GO!” and then scooted us out the door with an eye roll and a head shake.

My packed up desk. I’m ready to flexi-desk somewhere which has a harbour view possibly?

The attitude change to flexi-desking in such a short time astounds me.

I’m no stranger to it but in all honesty I was initially hesitant about it as I had a negative experience of it some years back. One employer at the time had placed restrictions on where you could flexi-desk.  In particularly, they had zoned off an area of our floor and it meant that our team had a selection of desks to choose from.  It was “Musical Chairs”. If you happened to come in late and saw that there were no desks in that section, you may as well have gone home. It was all downhill from there.

To top it off, management didn’t properly explain the reason for flexi-desking instead saying that it “increased collaboration” but when I questioned I was just collaborating with my own team around the same desks every day, I was considered a bit of a trouble maker for speaking against it.  Also, it didn’t help that I was having back problems at the time and lugging equipment back and forth to a desk that was missing keyboards, mouse, phones or left in a disgusting state by the previous occupier, I was not a convert to flexi-desking.  In fact, I wrote about it here on my  personal blog site Ramblings back in April 2011, “The Futility of Flexi Desking”.

Another employer made us take photographs of our home study office and used that as a basis of whether they would agree for us to work from home AND we had to prove we did work by showing them what we completed or achieved on that day.

This time around it’s different.

I had always maintained honesty and openness in communication and I respect management who just says it as it is. This time they said straight out, “it costs us money to keep your desk; expect that there will be reduced availability to desks.”  No ifs or buts.  Straight up and down the line. I respect that. I know where I stand.

Okay, I don’t know where I stand when it comes to who pays for my Internet access at home accessing the workplace remotely; the effect on Occupational Health and Safety issues (am I entitled to medical care when I accidentally hit my coccyx when my wheeled chair slips from underneath me on my slippery hardwood floors at home? Or if I’m paddling about in my fluffy socks at home and slip during working hours?) or let’s not even question the Work Life Balance because frankly, with flexi-desking – there is none as I’ll be at work 24/7. 

But aside from those three uncertainties, let’s just say I’m okay with flexi-desking for now because we get the choice of where we can do it in fact, they openly encourage us to go to different sites, buildings and floors in the spirit of networking and collaboration.  I’m all for this because I instantly know where the best harbour views are – so that’s where I’ll be.  I’m also thinking about going to one of the sites closer to home so that I can get a greater appreciation of the business in the ‘burbs – and the challenges they face.

Who knows what may come of it – maybe a new contract perhaps?

I’m already thinking of where I would like to flexi-desk and I’m thinking about environments that will inspire me or ones where I can learn a new part of the business and meet some new faces.

Something with a water view or hanging around creative arty types who have large Apple Macs so that we can look at each other’s work with curiosity and hopefully learn from each other.

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About Activate Learning Solutions

Helen Blunden is the founder of Activate Learning Solutions and Third Place. She has over 20 years of experience within learning and development across private, public and not-for-profit organisations. With a specialty in performance consulting and networked learning, Helen believes that workplace learning is integral to business success. She has a passion for enabling people to learn beyond the classroom and believes in the power of networks and communities to drive collaboration and meaning within the organisation. From facilitator-led instruction, online and blended, Helen deploys social and informal learning such as enterprise social networking, collaboration tools and emerging technologies that have been proven successful and embedded workplace change.
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