A Day in the Life of a Hotdesker
As told to UCU Brighton by a member of staff here, based on their experience at a different Higher Education Institution:
Check that you have everything you need for the day in your rucksack: books to loan to student(s), stapler, paper for the photocopier (now you can’t keep supplies in your desk), hard-drive, spare jersey (for which there’s no room in your 12” x 16” x 12” locker) – and then of course, lunch, water bottle. This is on top of all the other clobber you carry around so your rucksack is the weight of a middling hound.
Heave rucksack onto your shoulders. Adjust weight so that it’s evenly distributed. Wish you were bigger, taller, and stronger.
Get to work. Your shoulder feels a bit sore because someone getting off the train clipped the edge of your arm, and the extra weight on your back meant you twisted awkwardly.
Lift isn’t working, so climb stairs to 5th floor. Look around the Open Plan office and decide which desk is least hazardous. You like your colleagues but there are some who like you a bit too much. Such as Dave who wants to boast about his investments. Or there’s Miso soup woman who may or may not like you but certainly doesn’t like eating in the kitchenette. Which reminds you:
Go to the kitchenette to make a coffee. But someone’s used up your favourite. In fact, you bought it and it had your name on it. You should have put it in your locker, except that it’s full and is quite a leg from the kitchen.
Return to desk and see that it’s not Miso soup woman that’s the most immediate hazard. Someone – and you think you know who – has left a lap top just next to where you were planning to set up. You’re feeling in need of some quiet-prep time before your lecture at 11.00 so, reluctantly move your bag and go looking for another desk. There’s one near the open window. Only problem is that it’s quite windy and your (forbidden) papers will fly away. But it’s relatively secluded.
Realise that you’ve actually got some prep done – when maintenance workers enter with ladders to do something noisy with the exposed services. Realise that if you’re to get ready by 11.00, you will have to move to another floor, because you can’t hear yourself think. As you’re preparing to vacate, you see that the Dean’s seat is empty, in the secluded corner with the pot plants. Decide to take a risk on it. Just as you’re saving your powerpoint, said Dean appears. ‘Stay where you are – don’t move!’ they say but you know they don’t mean this as they’re not going away. Pack up, heave rucksack onto back and go to while away 10 mins in empty lecturer theatre.
Realise that you’ve failed to save powerpoint because you were interrupted. Try to remember what you’d changed. Make quick amendments as students are taking up seats. Someone comes to talk to you and you are dimly aware that your multitasking might not effective.
You’re in need of that coffee. Your coffee. Lecture didn’t go so well, because the amendments made an utter mess. Remember that there is no coffee.
Go to locker to retrieve emergency chocolate. Empty out locker to find slightly squashed bar at back. Eat it on the stairs as Miso Soup is vying with Chicken Pot Noodle in the kitchenette and you’re not to supposed to work in the desk neighbourhoods (though everyone does).
Decide that you need to stretch your legs but that will only happen if your back is not stretched too. Dump rucksack under out of the way desk, removing your wallet and packed lunch.
Return from your lunch to find rucksack has been knocked (kicked? )over. Notice that the floor on which it’s been resting is damp. Open rucksack to find that your water bottle is leaking – which probably started when the rucksack was knocked over.
Give thanks that a) it’s only water and b) the flooring is just cheap carpet and no-one will notice.
Settle down to apply stapler to some (forbidden) print outs. Colleague on table opposite asks you – pointedly – how many more you have to do. As you curtail your activity, they start a loud and clearly personal conversation on their phone.
You wonder whether you should go home, but remember that next door’s building works are in full swing.
[and so on…]