Twice a day, every day I must get asked “Why don’t you have a desk in your office?” In fact, I was asked twice this morning already, so I thought I would honor this curiosity with a blog post about my office. My office and my office arrangement has changed annually for many years…probably looking “dorm roomish” at times to spartan at others.
Let me first answer the question…it is correct. I do not have a desk. I haven’t had a desk for about two years now. It became very obvious to me that having a desk in my office wasn’t a good use of space! I really took a serious look at my days and what it is I needed out of a space. I figured out a couple of things right away:
- I need a lot of visual work space…I have three chalk boards, two white boards and a chart in my office, bordering the walls. As teams work through projects or planning, everything is noted on one of the boards. The staff know that they can add to or check things as well. It’s a very transparent way to share my thinking and priorities at the time.
- I have way more meetings with groups of people than I do time to sit by myself at a desk. So the need was obvious, get rid of the desk and get a large table!
So here’s what we did:
With limited funds for furniture, our custodian came up with a great idea. Using two sheets of finished plywood he created a table top that went right over my existing table. It looks great, works great and cost about $20. Now I have a great space for large teams to work and meet without stumbling around my desk. I also find that having the table works great for collaborative conversations. As I’m working on something people can sit down and chat with me easier than if I’m sitting at a desk. I also keep a stodge of post its and note pads right in the middle so people can write and share easily.
Now I still needed a spot to plant my stuff, so we created a standing workstation. I wish I could say I did this for philosophical reasons, but it was more to accommodate the space than anything. I usually stick to the standing workstation when I can, but when I have a ton of stuff to spread out I’ve got an awesome table to use! I’m still working on making the standing workstation jive with my daily work, but it’s getting there. Our custodian just loves when I say I’ve got a new idea to try out!
The last thing we did was line the walls with chalkboards and white boards. I have a thing about chalkboards, so I apologize to those anti-dust folks (you’ll be happy to know I use dust-free chalk).
In the end, I’m extremely happy without a desk. It has changed my office from being my office to being more of a collaborative work space.