Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

August 30th, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized


A few months ago, my company split up our department in two and shunted each group to a different floor. Our organizational refugee status was forced upon on us because some big cheese finally figured out that the area we were occupying, which has a view of the Hudson River, was too good for a bunch of back office peons like us.

So out we go to make room for all the high-profile people. Executive muckety-mucks and very important traders need the appropriate environment, so the whole west side of the floor is redone. New desks, new phones, new everything.

Seems in the new design, the company is convinced they can pack a lot more people in the same space. Even the very important traders are getting less room. But relative to us peons, they have a veritable football field in which to spend their day. The new area they have design for our group to return to I call the “kennel.” I’m surprised there isn’t a chain-link and barbed wire fence around it.

We’ve gone from having somewhat traditional cubicles, where you have work surface that forms an “L” around you, and file drawers behind you, to practically sitting at a cafeteria table, where you get 3 feet of space. You get 3 feet of space because 5 other people are sitting at the same table with you.

There are no partitions. If the person next to you is on the phone, you hear every word. Never mind the 6 people at the table directly behind you. Or across from you on the other side of the table. Frankly, I wonder why they got us individual chairs when one long bench would have worked fine. That way more people could jam in. Just slide down!

I am personally proud to be working at a firm that has decided to treat it’s technical people like cattle. I think it’s the bravery of the company’s leadership to blindly ignore everything that is known about creating a quality productive work place. I’m sure a bunch of people are pat themselves on the back for the money they will save because of the great reduction in square footage. Of course, half the floor is actually going to be totally empty. Which is good, because if we hire more traders, they will move our group again. Because who cares about the costs of moving, and the work disruptions?

At least the numbers will look good for this whole fiasco, because unused square footage doesn’t get billed to any one departments cost center. And the costs of increased turnover, and the inability to attract new hires is so hard to reflect on the bottom line. It’s a win-win!

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