We are doubling the size of our current office space due to rapid growth. At the current office where I am one of several managers, I have a corner office right next to my boss. My boss is taking the choice office at the far end of the new office space and if I move to stay close to him, I will have to give up the corner office and move into a smaller space. If I stay in my current office, I will be at the far end of the office from him.
From an organizational perception standpoint, how important is it for me to be close to the seat of power? If I do not move close will I be viewed as less important? Out of the loop? Out of sight out of mind?
Cushy Corner Office or Cube Dweller
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY FRANKE JAMES
Dear Cushy Corner Office or Cube Dweller,
Management experts could argue this question many ways, but since you asked me I’ll weigh in with my point of view.
Power in a corporation is not from material trappings or the title on your desk. It comes from being trusted and wielding influence — whose ear do you have? Can you speak directly to the top decision-maker, or is everything you say filtered through levels of management? If your views are filtered by others you can still impact change — but it’s more difficult.
I believe that proximity and visibility to your boss is more important than having a cushy corner office. In these precarious economic times you will want to be perceived as doing your utmost to make the company successful. The optics of having a comfortable corner office could actually interfere with you communicating the “I am delivering value. I am a team player. And I am doing everything I can to help the company prosper” message. (And it could spark envy from your coworkers.)
Also, in making your decision, I would reflect on human nature.
The more casual opportunities you have to interact with your boss, the better. (So long as you are tactful and not pushy or ingratiating).
Imagine your boss coming into work in the morning. If you are in a cozy cubicle near his office, he can see you busily working away. You can give him a cheery hello, etc. You will be in a better position to pick up on subtle clues in his behavior, sense his shifting moods, and spot opportunities to help out.
If, however you are at the opposite end of the office, you are in danger of the out-of-sight-out-of-mind phenomenon. You will have to make deliberate daily efforts to show him that you are delivering the goods. Now this could be seen as overly simplistic, because in many corporations virtual or tele-commuting employees are superbly demonstrating their value — and they are not even on the premises. But it requires more effort and finesse because those workers need to offset the natural advantage of face-to-face daily contact.
Good luck and let me know what you decide! Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Franke James, MFA
Editor & Founder, Office-Politics.com
Inventor, The Office-Politics® Game
Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of Office-Politics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.