Office politics

Question: Dear All. Last year, some of you might remember I mentioned that I was in an open plan office now. It has been difficult to fit us all in and some areas within the open plan office have opted for this desks that are separated by partitions. For the last two years, I have found a desk arrangement that suits me. My computer table gives me enough room to stock my copy holder, voice stuff, the number part of a keyboard etc. Then on my left I have another table. I have two footstools which are not very comfortable because things don’t much either. My keyboard tray is lower than the monitor bit. These new desks have very little space and no lower tray etc. They are the wrong height as well. I am having a lot of anxiety about this because I am very unpopular as a result and seen as wanting my own way and being difficult. They want all the furniture to be matching and my area doesn’t match those lovely new colored partitions. My old boss who was a director actually gave me his desk because it was more suitable for me. I hate middle management, they are so petty. Any advice appreciated.

Answer 1: I have the same problem with office / company politics. I am in an open plan office directly beneath a fresh air vent which affects my neck and back. I ask it to be removed. They say that I need it recommended by the occupational health department and cannot ask directly. The company nurse comes to see me every Tuesday and has asked for it to be moved but not dealt with. The noise affects my VR system and they won’t deal with that directly. I just have to sit here and correct everything that it has picked up which frustrates me and I become tense and sore. If I have a problem with Dragon dictate and call our IT help desk, then it’s anyone’s guess when and if they will turn up as they refuse to ‘support’ my system as no one knows anything about it. I’m the only one in the company with it. If I go to HR they want me to tell me manager. I tell my manager and she wants me to tell Facilities Helpdesk and when I go directly to them the other two complain that they haven’t been informed. All I can suggest to anyone that has to deal with office politics is to be strong and hold on to your guns. I’ve had to deal with it for over 5 years and if I wasn’t strong enough to deal with it and along with the support of the doctor from Occupational health, then who knows where I would be today. It’s very tough dealing with RSI every day, every minute and easier to give up but everything has its rewards.

Answer 2: Office politics are not easy. Somebody always wants to complain about something. I can only suggest that you have a chat with a PACT adviser at your local job centre, they may be able to steer you in the right direction as to what action you can take if you feel that your workplace is unsuitable for you. My local Pact adviser has been extremely helpful and I may be returning to work soon.

Answer 3: I can sympathize with you, because as a trained touch typist I know how important the height of a typing desk is – most managers who just hunt and peck a little and don’t sit at a desk inputting all day just don’t realize that the bit of a desk where the keyboard goes SHOULD be lower than an ordinary desk used for writing etc. When my section boss wanted to replace my lovely dropped-front desk which is the recommended height of 26 inches and replace it with one that was three inches higher (because the new ones “looked nice” and he wanted them all to match), I got my NHS consultant (who knew a lot about it because he had just the same problems himself with his own hospital management) to write me a letter to my employers stating that I could not possibly manage with this keyboard and it would exacerbate my hand injury. It was a long hard fight but eventually they backed off and I still have my old desk today – if I DO need it any higher there is a small section specially made to fit on top which raises the dropped section to the height of the rest of the desktop. Perhaps you could try something similar?

Answer 4: I’m in a similar set up- open plan office – furniture to be matching so it looks good etc. I use voice recognition and have had problems with background noise and for the first few months it was seen by my manager as me whinging. I then got to the stage where I’d get him to come over on the pretext of looking at a piece of my work (deliberately when it was noisy), so he could see how much the noise affected what I was doing. As soon as he’d reached his own conclusion on seeing how it worked he did, to be fair, get things moving to get me a noise cancelling microphone. I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that, at my place anyway, it has seemed to help me more if they see the problem rather than if I tell them (of course they don’t need to know I’ve manipulated them into seeing it….! However, being brutally honest, what has helped me most is that over the last month, one of the managers has developed an RSI. All of a sudden. I’m the ‘expert’ that can help someone with a problem, instead of being the ‘slightly’ unstable whinging one’! Rather sadly, the thing that’s been the best for me is someone else going through what we’ve all been through. It’s sad they couldn’t have learned from me and prevented her problems. Office politics – it’s all a game-but the rules change to suit the middle management. I wish I had a magic answer for you- My thoughts are with you and if you need to let off steam you know we’re here. I hope someone can give some good advice.

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