Moving on up! (But staying in the exact same place)

10 03 2011

I don’t know if you all heard the news, but I think it’s time to share. Here at Anonymous Agency, we’re expecting! That’s right. 150 new families, 13 new case planners, three new supervisors, and a new director.

At a time when a lot of social service agency are hemmorhaging workers, and losing funding to serve clients, we’re getting more. Why, you must be asking, could that be?

For one, we’re very, very good. I say that facetiously, but it’s true. We do good work. This place is less crazy than most agencies.

For another, our proposal promised to do a lot with a little. More than possible, some would say. (I mean, I wouldn’t say that. That would be termination worthy incorrect.)

We had a meeting the other day to discuss, what else, doing more with less. It’s been the topic of pretty much every staff meeting we’ve had since our old director who made us do group-building yoga exercises left.

The main problem is space. We’re getting a lot of new people. And we don’t have anywhere to put them. We’ll be able to use a large room down the hall, but that’s all we’re adding on, in terms of office, cubicle, and counseling space.

Let's try a helpful visual aid.

This is the office as we currently have it. Those smiley faces are workers. The smiley face with the long hair and eyebrow ring is your very own SocialJerk. The one with glasses that make him look like a ninja turtle is my desk mate.

These little diagrams were passed out a staff meeting, which the Big Boss attended. She frightens me. And when I’m nervous, I get extra sarcastic and try to be funny. It’s not the best defense mechanism, I admit.

She came in and told us that we would have to rework our floor plan. The large room down the hall will be divided in half, so one half can be used for groups, and the other can be used for case planners.

In the space we currently use, we would have to figure out how to cram in some extra cubicles, give the new supervisors the private offices that they so richly deserve, and not sacrifice all of our counseling space.

Now, if you ask me, the priority is counseling space. Yes, we need a place to do our paper work, and a spot to keep our files, but without counseling space, what’s the point?

Obviously, I’m an idiot.

“”Can the supervisors share offices?”
“Well, that would make supervision difficult.”
“But they’re not supervising all the time. Maybe they can work on sharing the space, come up with an arrangement.”
“I’m not sure that would work.”

I took “that won’t work” to mean, “We want our own damn offices, Snood isn’t going to beat itself.” I might have just been in a bad mood.

Then one of my coworkers suggested using a potential counseling room as a storage area. I’m sorry, are we running a big box store on the side? I understand that we have a lot of junk here, but let’s try to clear it out and keep what we need in actual closets.

How about our enormous filing cabinets? What if we attached a shelf over everyone’s desk, so they could lock and keep their files there?

“But where will be put the cabinets?”

It was the strangest descent into office life I’d ever experienced. It was as though I’d stumbled upon a primitive culture, who had no idea of the advances going on in the world around them. “That is the rock. The rock has always been there. We cannot move it.” For a moment, I comtemplated taking out my smart phone and convincing them to worship me as a goddess.

Every suggestion that was made, some Debbie Downer, or Negative Ned, I don’t care which one, piped in with why it was terrible. If we use partitions they won’t be soundproof, if we give away the donated clothes we won’t have them when we need them, turning cubicles that way might be a fire hazard, bunk desks are a dangerous and stupid idea, SocialJerk, stop suggesting that.

Somehow we developed impossibly higher standards for our new space. Even higher than the standards we currently have. (To be fair, you’ve seen pictures, our standards are pretty low.)

But changes are coming, whether we like it or not. One thing I’ve always loved about social work is that it allows me to creative and flexible in my practice.

So I’m still holding out for top desk.

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14 responses

10 03 2011
Lynn D.

Bunk desks sound freaking awesome! Go for it…

10 03 2011
socialjerk

I know, right?! I can’t believe I was alone.

10 03 2011
jontybabe

We are getting ready to move back to newly renovated offices & we are already squabbling over who sits where! I’ve been ousted from my cushy desk by the window to behind the feckin door!!!

10 03 2011
socialjerk

What are these “windows” you speak of?

In all honesty, you seem fairly feisty. Perhaps some well-timed firecrackers are in order? Not to hurt anyone, of course, just to send a message. If that fails you could always go the Scooby Doo route and pretend that area is haunted.

10 03 2011
Fi

seems like your ‘good’ social work bureau is about to become one of the ‘ordinary’ ones!

10 03 2011
socialjerk

It’s a frightening possibility. Thought fortunately they still have me πŸ™‚

11 03 2011
Allison

Anyway you can work from home/the field when you are not seeing clients? We have this option. I have the agency network server on my laptop where I can easily access all my paperwork. Plus, all my clients know to call me on my cell when they can’t reach me in the office.

I do end up accomplishing a lot more however when I am in the office!!

11 03 2011
socialjerk

That’s nice that you have that option. I don’t know if I would have the dedication to my paperwork if I was at home–I mean, my bed is right there! πŸ™‚ It’s definitely something to think about. it would require some changes, as our schedules tend to be kind of unpredictable, but that’s probably something we’re going to have to work on with all of the other changes, anyway.

I had suggested keeping the agency open an extra hour or two, which is something we should be doing anyway since so many of our families work. Most people were not on board with that. Oh well!

12 03 2011
Weekend Links 9 | Fighting Monsters

[…] SocialJerk explains that office space is about to become increasingly rare in her department as they…. I remember those halcyon days when space was an issue in our office. Now we have acres of it due to lengthy recruitment freezes. […]

12 03 2011
sarahk

That is so hard. We are two and three to an office and we end up either inappropriately doing counseling with two staff and two clients in the office at the same time (that’s messed up) or playing musical offices. I get to my office with a client but someone else is already in there with a client, because someone was in her office, and so on. Sometimes we really do meet in a large hall closet with chairs.

12 03 2011
sarahk

Oh but I should say, like Allison, I can work in the field or from home doing paperwork. I do almost all of my paperwork at home for obvious reasons. I’m actually MUCH more productive at home.

I also do my best to meet clients at Starbucks, McDonalds, the park, etc, but some conversations are just not appropriate to have in public.

14 03 2011
socialjerk

I’m familiar with musical offices! We have one night a week when there are two large groups meeting, in addition to the regular sessions being held with clients. One supervisor has been nice enough to let someone use her office in those instances.

I can’t imagine having two counseling sessions going on in the same room. That must be so difficult for everyone involved. Meeting in other locations like you mentioned is a good way to handle it (we’ve met clients at the zoo) but, like you said, sometimes it doesn’t provide the confidentiality you need. We’re being encouraged to deal with this space issue by doing more home visits. Home visits are great, but between kids running around, the TV being on, and people stopping by, it’s often not the best setting to get any realy counseling work done.

And I respect you for being able to get work done at home. I get distracted enough at the office!

21 03 2011
mjfrombuffalo

Scan the closed case files into PDFs and shred them, many agencies are doing that to reduce need for storage space. And the computer applications you use are accessible from any computer with Internet, you just need SSL VPN priviledges added to your CNNX account via Webstar. Your CNNX Security Admin should know how to do this.

21 03 2011
socialjerk

I will take your word for it that all of those are actual things, and pass along the suggestions πŸ™‚ Thanks!

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