View Full Version : Company merge/office move

10-30-11, 11:23pm
Some of you might remember me mentioning a few months back that my company was merging with another one in our area (both freight forwarders). There were a few layoffs, but all in all, the companies have very complimentary strengths, in opposite areas. The other company was heavy in export, for example. Mine is very strong on the import side (what I do). My company has lots of offices in Asia, which the other company didn't.

Anyway, here in the US, we all moved in together. Since my area's office will be USA HQ, it took a little longer. The move happened on Friday afternoon. I went from a cube almost too big, to one 6'x6'. We work with double monitors due to what we do (much more efficient), which take up a great deal of room, but since I'm a minimalist, I did just fine. Tomorrow (Monday) will be the first working day. None of the computers or phones were hooked up on Friday at the new office when I left.

Some of my coworkers, however. Well...let's just say they would be good candidates for an office version of "Hoarders"! Two girls at the company we merged with were already in the new cubes when we arrived on Friday. Their cubes looked like junk sales! And I suspect that once the girls I've worked with for five years get their stuff all set, some of their cubes will be the same.

The majority of the clutter isn't even work related. It's all personal stuff. We're not talking a few family pictures. We're talking every conceivable sort of knick knacky type thing. One of the girls I've worked with for years has a veritable shrine to her two sons and their kids. Prints out pics her DILs email her and she tacks up the B&W prints on her wall. She had LAYERS. I joked more than once that all she needed was to add a candle to make her "shrine" complete. She laughed and admits she doesn't know when to stop with the pics. I have one pretty postcard and another very small sentimental item, and that's it.

I bet they're going to have to choose between having space to work or their knick knacks!

10-30-11, 11:50pm
People have different styles. If you have to spend hours and hours a day in what is basically a battery cage, you might as well personalize it.

When I worked, I had nothing but an arty calendar in my cube, and I'm no minimalist. I guess I didn't want to enmesh myself with the workplace. It claimed enough of my soul as it was. :treadmill:

10-30-11, 11:54pm
People have different styles. If you have to spend hours and hours a day in what is basically a battery cage, you might as well personalize it.

When I worked, I had nothing but an arty calendar in my cube, and I'm no minimalist. I guess I didn't want to enmesh myself with the workplace. It claimed enough of my soul as it was. :treadmill:

There's a difference between personalizing your cube with a few items and having so many knick knacks and framed pictures on desktop that there's hardly any room to work. Or having every single inch of wall space covered with stuff. One coworker had so many knick knacks that IT told her she was going to have to move a bunch of them before they would even work on her computer.

10-31-11, 6:31am
I used to spend a third of my life at work (retired now) and enjoyed the different styles of booth decoration. Mine was spare but the other 30 employees were all very different. We were in a big internal room with no windows and lived in those 6X6 cubicles tied to telephones and computers. Anything that reminded us that there was a world beyond the job helped us survive. We handled crisis calls, suicide threats, debt issues and such and it was stressful.

Some kept those personal memories in their head; some needed to see them. Some had kids that they only saw a few hours a day and pictures helped them and us realize they had a life outside of work. All the employer cared about was whether the few documents we needed were available in files and could be found in case of emergency. We had to disassemble a booth once when a coworker had a car accident that injured her so much she was never able to return to the job.

We also had to move or get new furniture several times over the 30 years I worked there (in the same building) and that was the only time things got cleaned out. You should have seen the bins and bins of business junk that was hauled out. No one ever had any time to do this and keep the constant work flowing too.

The employer knew which battles to fight.

10-31-11, 11:21am
I always appreciate the difference in people's spaces. I too agree that when you have to spend that much time confined in a space that you have to put up things that keeps your spirits lifted. My work spaces have always been spare almost as if I am just "visiting" - I don't know why but I just don't get into goo-gaws, photos and holiday decorating as some do. I have a horizontal wall mural of clouds and sky that I have yet to put up.

10-31-11, 12:23pm
on my last job we had a takeover and move, and we prepared for months. The hundred or so that were not laid off went in groups over several months and I was in the last group. All the managers were gone and they took most of the work too, so it was way more like a party atmosphere. It was like being on Survivor as people left the remaining eight of us.

I went to the manager and asked if I could go through all the leftovers to see if there were any worthwhile things to donate to the city schools. He said no, he had to go through the stuff first. Well there were piles of things as they took the cubicles. Finally, the day before we were leaving he told me I could go through the piles of stuff as he never had a chance to. Another woman and I spent the large part of a day sorting and packing stuff. I had several big bags of clothes (sweaters, hats, mittens, boots and jackets) and boxes and bags of folders, paper, paper clips, tape, rubber bands, binders etc, just a ton of stuff. The amount of pens and pencils would have filled a shopping cart! My car and trunk were so full I could barely fit in the drivers seat. I think that was a major turning point in my life as far as "stuff" went. The city middle school, where I had a friend working, was so appreciative of all the supplies as even before the current economic meltdown was on a very limited budget. I even left the clothes there as they had many students who had no jackets or sweaters. There was still enough junk left for several dumpsters full.

I liked my clean and neat cube with a picture of my kids with their kids and spouses, but besides a calendar that was it.

Float On
10-31-11, 12:40pm
I just got a new church office. In my old one my desk (a beautiful huge thing with 3 sides and hutch, must be 10x10x10 each side) barely fit in with room for an additional file cabinet and an extra chair. Oh and I had a bat or bird in the wall above that would kick things onto my desk each night. My only decoration was a pottery mug for my pens.
We did some renovations recently and my new office is huge and for the first time in 6 years I actually brought some artwork from home and decorated with pottery, glass, prints, fiber arts, etc, and I recovered a few side chairs for visitors. Its a beautiful space and I love working in it.

10-31-11, 2:25pm
I have been moved every couple of years for the last 10 or so. I think its the company's way of making people throw stuff out. :)

10-31-11, 7:32pm
I used to have a coworker who had so much paper piled on, under and around his desk that HR told him it was a fire hazard.

11-1-11, 9:00am
I think there's wide span between totally minimalist (perfectly fine in my book) to an episode of Hoarders (my former co-worker's cube). I have a couple of things on the wall, a calendar, a couple of pics of DH and the dogs and a mug for my writing utensils. The cubes that get me (besides the real clutter-bugs) are the ones that are decorated year-around like aquariums or tropical islands or the like.

I'm a trifle OCD about my workspace, but I don't work well with all workspaces and walls covered up.

11-1-11, 1:49pm
We had a whole office meeting this morning to address some things left over from the move. VP in charge of office said, yes, cubes are smaller than we're used to, but you have to get used to it. You better get yourselves organized in short order.

Some people have files piled on the floor outside their cubes. Because they have too much personal stuff on their desks. That's the whole problem with this. People are complaining they have no room for work related stuff, yet their desktops are taken over by framed pictures, knick knacks, and other assorted personal stuff.

That's my whole issue with the entire situation. People want to have their cake and eat it, too. They don't get that the work stuff has priority and the personal stuff is icing on the cake. We have smaller cubes now. So theyhave to get rid of some personal stuff and take it home. Or take the pictures out of the frames and pin them to the wall. It reminds me of people who are forced to move into a smaller home due to circumstances, and they don't do any decluttering and have houses that are packed to the gills.

11-1-11, 7:18pm
yeah. it can be a tough balance for some. :)

i've never been one much for a lot of decoration, so it's never been an issue for me. I prefer a workspace that is just a workspace. And I like to keep private things private. When I would work in the various law offices where I worked, my cube was quite literally the computer and the files that I used in the file drawer, and my pencils and pens in my other drawer. I didn't have a calendar because there's one on the computer. I also never took work home, so didn't need a case or what have you.

seriously, people made fun of me. LOL

11-1-11, 7:41pm
Zoe, we had a dept. only meeting this afternoon (manager said VP in charge of office had asked separate dept. meetings be held). In addition to a few things that needed to be worked out (do we use UPS or Fedex, who handles a few other things, etc.), manager said they are sick of hearing people complain about the smaller cubes and to stop it. Now! You're adults, deal with it and get used to it! Get your stuff organized - now! EVERYONE, aside from several very high ups who are at the company we merged with (and whose space we moved into), EVERYONE is now in a smaller space.

You know it's bad when management tells folks to quit their bellyaching!

11-2-11, 2:57am
true that!

two Stories:

1. my mom's work downsized their offices to increase productivity of space (essentially, extending lab space which is how the company makes money, and reducing office space). pretty much everyone was affected, including the upper management folks. They started having to share offices! LOL Imagine! Anyway, meetings were held in boardrooms, and they had to hire a person just to manage those unique logistics.

So, my mom went from having her own X-sized cubical to SHARING a smaller combined cubicle with 5 others. Yes, 6 people in a cubicle. Now, they took what was once 4 cubes, took out interior walls, and lined it with desks, and gave it to 6 people. So, the amount of space that an individual had decreased.

My mother -- like me -- is a clean freak and needs a clean, uncluttered workspace. It's why i don't have knick knacks, photos, etc. I find clutter distracting. It's horrifying. It's also why i have to clean/tidy the house before working, for example. It's funny.

But, she shares her workspace with 5 baroque style decorators with about 10,000 photographs and goo-gahs on their desks. They have taken to piling up their files in the middle of the cubicle!

My mom went to her supervisor about how other's googahs and photos were starting to encroach on her workspace. She likes to keep things clean and clear. I don't blame her! Bah! :D So, the supervisor said she could put up strings or ribbons at the edges of her workspace that the other ladies couldn't cross. So, that helped.

But when the files started ending up in the middle of the floor, my mom had to go back and complain again, because it was just uncomfortable.

turns out, much of the company felt the same way -- including upper management because they were sharing offices (two desks in one office that once held one desk!) -- that there was too much clutter. It was decided that personal items had to fit in a set amount of space within the given cubicle/office. This was determined by the facilities guys -- they measured each space and a % of the space could be used for personal items. It was a small percentage. LOL

People FREAKED, but it solved a lot of problems -- one, nearly every cubicle was much neater and less cluttered, and two, there weren't files piled everywhere and making a mess and making work difficult. And of course, for those of us who can't stand clutter and clutter makes it difficult for us to work, added bonus was just less clutter overall! :D

2. at one law firm where i worked for several months while in school, they would often have holiday decoration contests as part of their parties, etc. I wouldn't often decorate because -- at the time -- between the law job (which was usually unpaid), teaching yoga, and going to law school, plus my commutes, i simply didn't have time to even think about it, much less do anything. LOL And, it's not like i had a lot of cash to spend on decorating my desk/cube area.

so, i didn't usually decorate. but, when it came to halloween time, i'd noticed on my walk a lot of really lovely autumn wildflowers, grasses, and beautiful autumn leaves. I'd picked them up, and brought them back in with me (i'd been working, and i always take a walk during my work day). I found a jar in the kitchen, and made a little decoration for myself with my found objects. I'd also picked up several stones, just to provide some weight to the jar (so it wouldn't fall over) and create a sort of "floral frog" for myself.

that afternoon was the party, wherein they would announce who won the decorating contest.

well, you have to imagine. . . some people went all-out! I mean, ghosts from the ceiling, carved pumpkins, skeletons, all kinds of stuff. really great, clever stuff. Over-the-top, but tons of fun anyway. Really cool. There was a vote to see who would win, so it wasn't just one person choosing.

After the votes were counted, i'd won! LOL

and apparently, pretty much every vote said "because, it's the first time we've ever seen any decoration of any kind on Zoe's desk!" it was nice. we got a gift certificate for dinner out at our favorite place, so that was cool. :)

11-2-11, 7:47am
I would have liked to hear the comments about your mom from her coworkers and just how much cooperation they showed later.

I got the cold shoulder just from asking the team to not stand in groups around my reception desk/counter taking their coffee break and talking because I could not work or answer the phone. I already tried moving the one chair and putting documents on the counter so they could not put their coffee cups there. The union rep was one of them doing it and once I explained why (could not work) she realized the issue and pretty much it got a lot quieter. However, the others really resented me asking them to do something different, however reasonable it was.

I cannot imagine hanging ribbons or marking the floor or anything like that. It is like a divorced couple marking half the house. If you already have a bad relationship, go for it.

11-2-11, 5:45pm
my mom went to her supervisor with it, rather than trying to tackle it herself. she knows the score by now about trying to do it herself. her supervisor came in and had each desk marked out (on the cubicle walls) in everyone's cube, and told people that they could use ribbon or whatever to decorate the 'lines' but that they had to keep their work/postings and personal items within their own lines.

so, it came down more like policy, than my mom being a problem.

but my mom isn't' very social at work anyway. :)

11-9-11, 10:11pm
Zoe, congrats on winning the contest! That's awesome!

Personally I had a job years ago where I gradually accumulated a lot of stuff in my office. Not so much pictures and knickknacks but just stuff. For instance at one point when pets.com went out of biz I got a great deal on kitty litter and had 20 boxes shipped to work, where it sat while I gradually took a box home every few days. I just treated my office like it was my own and that I'd be "living" there forever. When I got laid off it took 3 printer paper boxes to get all my stuff home. I vowed never to let that happen again. Now about all I have that's personal in my cube is one file folder of stuff like paystubs, etc. As for personal picutres I've got a picture of my two cats as my background on my computer. Oh, and a bowl and some silverware for eating lunch. That's enough for me.

And I keep my work stuff just as tidy. Every friday before I leave I tidy up so that the whole desk is clear except for a rack of file folders containing work in progress and my 3 ring binder of underwriting guidelines that I consult multiple times every day. If they ever decided that our department needed to move it'd take me about 15 minutes to get all packed up in a box or two that I'd just roll over to my new space on my chair.

I have coworkers who take a very different view of their workspace which I don't really think much about. But I can't see it except when walking past and it definitely doesn't have any effect on my life. If I was in a shared space of some sort, or if my coworkers were so bad that they were compromising their ability to work efficiently, I'd likely feel very differently, but that's not the case for me.

11-10-11, 6:31am
I've always worked in uncertain environments, and after the 2nd layoff, learned not to bring much personal stuff in. Most of the personal stuff is in drawers, not on display (collections of teas and snack items). Depending on the job, I may bring in some reference books from home. My goal is not to need more than 2 xerox boxes to bring my stuff home should I need to.

11-10-11, 11:30am
if my coworkers were so bad that they were compromising their ability to work efficiently, I'd likely feel very differently, but that's not the case for me.

jp, used to have a coworker at this company (before merger). Older lady, had been there for 10+ years, but her cube was a perpetual pit of hell. You would hear her saying to herself (or the universe) all day, "I can't find X file." We had a hard time finding stuff when she went on vacation even if she briefed us on her desk. The last straw was when she left for a two week vacation and didn't straighten up her desk any, didn't brief anyone on her files (though we asked repeatedly, she was "too busy" to do it), and all heck broke out the next two weeks. We couldn't find anything, active files were mixed willy-nily with old files, tons of paperwork where it shouldn't have been. Her customers were very unhappy. Ugh. What a mess. Needless to say, she was fired as soon as she got back from being off the two weeks (she'd been on her way out anyway).

11-10-11, 11:35am
I've always worked in uncertain environments, and after the 2nd layoff, learned not to bring much personal stuff in. Most of the personal stuff is in drawers, not on display (collections of teas and snack items). Depending on the job, I may bring in some reference books from home. My goal is not to need more than 2 xerox boxes to bring my stuff home should I need to.

Yeah, my personal stuff is mostly a plastic shoebox with tea and snack items.

Two days ago (I'm off today), one of the managers from another department on the first floor was up talking to my manager about something. My manager's office is directly outside my cube. The other manager said something to me about I better not keep my coat hanging on the end of the cube wall, because the VP in charge of office doesn't like that, and that it needs to go in coat closet on first floor. I told her there were no hangers at all in coat closet, and I didn't know there was a problem with it since I saw everyone on first AND second floors hanging their coats on end of cube wall due to nowhere else to put them. She promptly went out to Walmart and got a bunch of plastic hangers.

I thought that was pretty funny!

I'm so minimalist that I've got two file drawers totally EMPTY, so I was able to get rid of the file cart that didn't fit under my desk (no room for it in my cube otherwise), so active files in daily tabs went in top drawer. Old files waiting to be filed are in the drawer underneath. My desk is one of the few that one can complain about since there's not cr*p all over the place.

11-13-11, 9:06pm
what? you can't stuff your coat into one of the empty drawers? HUH? :D

I decluttered the office again. good thing i do it every week, then my other two 'live ins' (who rent the most) also declutter.

11-13-11, 9:30pm
What were empty drawers now have the contents of my old file cart.

They ordered us some hanging file pockets and such. I was able to get more stuff off desk surface.I had a coworker come by my cube on Friday and she said she wished hers looked like mine! ;)

11-15-11, 4:32pm
of course. you are so awesomely organized. it makes work simple. i don't know why more people don't do it. :D