How we view our desk has a direct correlation to how we view our ‘place’.
The chances are, if you’re reading this at work, you’re at your desk. That would be ‘your’ desk, allocated to you.
The desk is a fascinating institution that represents us more than we may realise. Having a desk says you have worth, that your employer recognises you as an individual. It can indicate if you have – or are assuming – a position of authority, are aloof or approachable, if you have trust issues or how confident you are. It can tell us something about your work/life balance and how you might handle change.
Think back to when you first had a desk, that day you were told ‘That’s your desk, that’s where you sit’. Would this be your first office job? What about when you started school?
So, here’s my example:
- Junior School: Allocated desks. Sometimes in alphabetical order (mine was that kind of school….).
- Secondary school: They took our desks away! We had lockers, and shared desks. And we demonstrated the power of human habit and created migration patterns with our desk use.
- University: Lecture halls were more like the Mobile habits we want to instil in people as adults. We design students had work tables; cue more migration patterns.
The desk is all about us as individuals. It’s about the ‘me’. My desk, my space, my things, my place. The desk is the one thing in our working lives where we can be sure to express ourselves, mark our place in other people’s awareness and firmly anchor ourselves in our understanding of our validity as employees. It is the physical manifestation of your employer stating you have worth as an employee, as such you are entitled to some of the employer’s territory.
Conversely, a desk of our own can be about our fight against The Man who tells us what to do and when to do it, it’s about sticking it to our need to be working stiff for lack of a private income, it’s about stamping our ownership on part of our employers environment.
That is not to say the desk is a bad thing, quite the opposite, it has a vital part to play in any field – and it’s not going to go away. It simply may not provide us with what we actually need to do our job effectively, efficiently and happily.