New Employee Checklist 2: Office Layout:

Ok,  now that you have keys, and know what they open, what do you need in your office?  Organizing your physical space is important.  Cube or corner suite, it is the same!


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______Is there an unobtrusive way for me to see the time no matter where I am sitting in the office?  (This one is so important!  One of the most common complaints consultants hear is some version of the following:

“I feel rushed–he is always looking at his watch.”

“I don’t think he takes me seriously–he keeps looking at his phone.”

“She is always late to meetings. We all have to wait around until her highness shows up.”

Being able to see a clock of some sort no matter where you are sitting in your space keeps you from making these fundamental errors. If you have ever been guilty, you know that it is typically because you have something else coming up. It might be a meeting with your boss, a dental appointment scheduled, or your next meeting. But it makes the person you are talking to feel diminished. Having a clock placed where you can see the time without being discourteous allows you to move the meeting along in a graceful way if you do have another commitment.  Part of good leadership has to do with making those around you feel important and valuable. More about that in another post!)


______Do I have A to Z files? Confidential files? Do I know where to find things?

(Now maybe you have phenomenal support staff that can always find whatever you need, whether it is the agenda and supporting materials for the next meeting, or your own notes for a project. Most of us are not that lucky.  In this era of  streamlining, most people that I know have to provide their own support, either because a single administrative assistant is shared by the whole office  or simply because we have to provide our own support.  Even highly paid professionals, like physicians have to provide their own administrative support. That is what it means when your doc comes into the exam room with an Ipad so she can take notes in the age of electronic medical records. )

______Do I have space available to meet with individual staff or visitors? Weekly staff meetings?

(If you have a large office, a small round table can easily seat a team of four or five.  If you have a small office you may be able to meet with a single individual. But there will definitely be situations where you’ll need a larger space. In a well organized office, meetings may be scheduled in an appropriate space as a matter of course. But what happens if it is a spontaneous “pick up” meeting? Having done some preparatory thinking–and being knowledgeable about spaces and protocols for their use, is part of good management. 

And you Cube Dwellers, what about you? Early in my career,  I once shared an office with a lovely person who was respectful of the fact that we had a shared space. But I occasionally had to meet with a student who wanted to discuss personal issues without an audience.  Having scouted out appropriate spaces in advance was very important.  My most productive space was a walk around the college quad, even in winter.  Students were more open when walking side by side, and I didn’t not have to worry about anyone misreading a closed office door.  Now, many years later, I have had large offices and adequate space. But I still think taking a walk with someone is a little known facet of “management by walking around!”)