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Where’s Your Office?

January 5, 2017

Hey, Rodney, where’s your office?

Ah. . .

It shouldn’t really be a hard question. Where is your office? It’s probably where your desk is, right? Or maybe it’s where your office phone is. Maybe, it’s where you dock your laptop.

None of those help me.

I can’t even say it’s where I pick up my paycheck. That’s direct deposited.

I’ve spent much of this week at my “old’ office out by Salt Lake City’s airport. For a long time, that was the answer to “where’s your office?” And a few months ago we moved buildings. We are now closer to downtown Salt Lake City. The old building is still there, and we still occupy it. In fact, three of the four floors are full of my agents. They don’t work for me directly, but they are all working on my account.

My new building is where all the executives and a bunch of my coworkers, and my manager all sit. They gave me a nice cubicle with a desk, a docking station and a phone. But, I knew I was going to spend a lot of time in my old office as well. So, they also gave me a desk, a docking station and a phone. And because I work from home once per week, I also have a desk, a docking station and a phone. The phones are set up to all ring with the same number. And they just forward to my cell phone for voicemail.

But, aside from the trivia answer of “how many desks to you have?” why bother to have a desk in my new and my old building? I have multiple call centers around the country. Obviously, I cannot be in each one of them. So, why bother to be in any of them?


In my role, I don’t have direct responsibility for anyone except myself. And yet, I cannot do my job without the help of engineers, change managers, analysts and agents. Is it important to physically be in the same room with someone you work with?


Is it always possible?


As we considered our move to the new building, I had to decide if I should put our Salt Lake City call center into the same category as our other call centers around the country. In other words, do I decide that I’ll simply use the phone to call across town as well as across the country? Ultimately, I decided not to.

Just being in the same room with someone helps build trust and give people common ground. If you’ve ever been on a phone conference call and heard something like this:

You know, I think that’s really a question for Bill. Can you give us your take on it, Bill?

. . .

. . .

Bill are you there?

Oh, sorry. I was multitasking. What was the question?

No knock against Bill. We’ve all put our phones on mute and tried to catch up on email, or work on that report during the meeting. Imagine the same conversation if you were in the same room with Bill.

That’s really a question for Bill.

Yeah, you know, as you’ve been talking I had this thought. . .

If you are in a physical meeting with someone and you have call their attention back to the meeting, you may have an HR issue.

So, I spend a considerable amount of time physically in the building with my agents. As we do software and phone tests, it’s much easier to stand beside the testing agents and say,

No, no click that button over there. Yeah, that’s the one.

Over the phone that becomes a frustrating game of “Can you tell me what you are seeing on your screen?”

Also, physically being in the room, in the building, means that lots of non-verbal cues can be noticed. Did the agents get agitated when they were trying to use the new software? How good do the headsets block the noise levels in our center? Is this person just having a bad day and they may need a break?

Nothing beats actually being there. I’ll continue to bounce from desk to desk throughout the coming year. The best answer I have to “Rodney, where is your office?”

“That depends. What day is it?”

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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