I was tired. I had been densifying all day. Densifying? Is that a word? Well, maybe I coined the word. It is what happens when an office is being densified. I looked up densification at dictionary.com and it said, “An increase in the density of something.” That was not a big help.
Actually, the word can be applied to a number of different things, but in this case it means to put more people in a smaller amount of space in an office building. It seems that someone in higher management decided that cubicles with high walls were no longer the way to go. When you densify, you put people closer together with low walls in work groups or “pods.”
You probably are not old enough to remember old-style offices where everyone was in the same room and desks were end to end. Your “office” was the top of your desk and the carpet where your chair sat. Phones rang, people chatted, typewriters clacked. I don’t remember if it was efficient. I do remember having to see George pick his nose all day.
Workers, of course, prefer walls and a private space. They don’t give a whit about whether being able to see each other improves communication or efficiency. Somehow, workers suspect that management is more interested in packing people in a small space to improve the bottom line rather than to improve efficiency.
Thing is, they were already remodeling the building floor by floor when they decided to do things a different way. So the remodeled floors had to be redone. Too bad they didn’t think of it sooner. I guess they planned on saving enough money by packing us in like sardines to make up the difference. Perhaps they should call it sardinification instead of densification.
We would not have as much open space after we densified, and we would have to move while the space was being remodeled. We didn’t know where or when, other than soon. All the files had to be cleaned and all extra paper had to go.
Of course, we really needed to clean out the files anyhow. We found paper that went back to the 80’s. Apparently, we had a few hoarders in the past that left for greener pastures and didn’t have an opportunity to clear their offices. New workers came and didn’t know what to throw away and what to keep, so they took the low road and kept it all.
We cleaned, threw out, shredded, recycled and densified until the trash bins regurgitated. I hauled so many loads of unwanted office items to our supply unit that I wore out the cart. I don’t know what we did with our time when we only had to do our job. I had never been so dense in my life.
I still remember when I transferred to my first tiny semi-private office cubicle with four walls (three and a half, actually) years ago. I was able to hang a few pictures and felt very important, like a real person. But no one got a walled office except the big cheeses. Hopefully, they would at least not block the windows this time and we could actually get some natural light.
As far as privacy, my calls were recorded, and my email and Internet usage monitored. My documents were backed up on the mainframe computer, and I was evaluated monthly to be sure I was meeting my goals. There was no such thing as privacy, walls or no walls. Sometimes I wonder what they thought we were doing, secretly cooking meth in our coffeepot?
Densify became the new office buzz word. I couldn’t help but wonder if they would actually complete the project or decide that something else was better and we were dense enough already.
Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss