I was listening to the American Public Media program Marketplace when a commentary came on by someone that does not keep her personal photos at work or photos of people she works with at home. Yep, you gotta keep that strict separation of church and state. Apparently some large unnamed company in Britain has banned employees from keeping knickknacks like personal photos or other items on their desks, and the employees were a grumbling about it.
These are the times that, as someone who consults in the world of “innovation”, I make that dent in my desk a little bit deeper. You know the one I mean, it’s that space on my desk where I slam my head after hearing this kind of report in hopes of some epiphany as to why this is happening.
Ok, I just backspaced over three paragraphs of ranting about this, so let me condense it. It’s a stupid, wrong-headed dumbass idea. I can’t even fathom the conversation that brought this policy about. Is the office footage in London so expensive that they charge by the cm square on the desk? Did someone get the bright idea that “Good Gods man, if we let them have pictures of their families at their desks, they will think they are human. Next thing you know they will be walking about on their hind legs and demanding opposable thumbs!”
To be fair, compared to the commentator I am the oddball. I would bet most people don’t have pictures of people they work with in their homes, but I do… bunches of them from all over the place, not to mention a few clients. Why? I have had a lot of fun working with my colleagues and clients, and have photos of us doing everything from building fences on a cattle ranch in Montana to eating something I have never seen before outside the main fish market in Tokyo. I have years of photos in my house, because they are my memories and my life is not a partial one, it is a whole. I have pictures of fellow performers, instrument makers, 90 year old hang glider pilots and clients laughing. But in full disclosure, in my office we don’t have photos on our desks, we have walls of them. They are on the desks, in the project rooms, even the odd standing cutout. We are a bit picture happy.
Look, if you are listening: If you want to cut costs, increase productivity, get people to help you think yourself out of the “well, it could be worse, we could be U-Haul” existence you are in, the pictures on your employees desks is an unprofitable way to start. Oh, and if you are the Board of Directors, and the CEO came up with this idea? Guess whose desk you need to clear off first.