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Insights on New Offices

August 6, 2008

I have to admit that I have been incredibly lax on updating my blog with new stories and insights (mostly garnered off of my Google reader feed). I am finishing up my internship in the lovely Washington, DC and our office has recently undergone a massive moving process. Reminds me of Dilbert, the office commentary comic strip. Or of a mystery story that I imagine would go something like this…

After hours last night, a change came over the building. As the lights dimmed and workers left their ‘pods’ to return home after grueling days of looking for worthless information on the internet, men inflitrated the building armed with boxes and carts. Their mission was unknown…. but when the workers returned the next morning, no one had the same office, none of the computers were in the right places, and everyone wandered aimlessly about the hallways in search of their long lost possessions….

Thankfully, I am not planning on becoming a fiction writer in my future career. However, this mock story has entertained me for most of the morning as I did indeed wander around the halls in search of the stuff from my former office.

In an organization that claims not to have an established hierarchy, I have found this moving process to be incredibly enlightening as to who is actually at the top of the corporate (or in this case, non-profit) food chain. The management personel moved to the shiny new office building a couple of blocks away – a building that is flooded with light from its floor-to-ceiling 14th floor windows. The sleak, posh nature of the new office indicates that the power resides with those who control the money flow. (Side note: their lackeys also moved… because of course you need someone to do your busy work for you when you’re making sure that the donors’ pockets are staying open.) Next to move were the “senior scholars” – what many would incorrectly presume to be the top of the chain. These scholars moved into the nice, big offices with the windows in the old building. After that – everyone did an office shuffle… some people ended up in smaller offices but with less people in the office, some people remained virtually the same in their office-to-people ratio, and some unfortunate individuals got stuck in situations that many would consider worse off. I’ve decided that the non-profit hierarchy is established first by the number of windows in your office, then by the quality of desk and chair you have (the more real the wood of the desk looks, the higher up on the ladder you are), then by the number of bookshelves the office has (more bookshelf space = bigger office = … more intelligent people?) and finally, by the number of people have crammed in the office (this usually applies only to those at the bottom of the chain.)

Given that I moved from an office with 3 people, 1 bookshelf, plywood folding tables as desks, and no lamps or windows to an office by myself, with a semi-real wood looking desk, a lamp beyond just the ceiling lights, 1 bookshelf and no windows… I’ll let you figure out how much of a promotion I recieved last night when the movers came. 🙂

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