Thanks very much to Lauren for her very interesting perspective on comparing/contrasting where the POTUS labors in the Oval Office, to the rather humble work abodes that the rest of us get to inhabit for some eight hours a day. That’s about 225 days a year, or, if you prefer, 7,875 hours, but hey-who’s counting?
When we think about going from the very apex of office couture to the more utilitarian stuff that we’re all used to, the way we decorate our spaces does say a helluva lot about us. And, while our wall space does indeed send a message, this, of course, isn’t necessarily good, either for our images or for our future career.
It’s like the very short, typically Napoleonic boss who insists on having office furniture that’s either too small (to make him appear taller), or very large (so that we’re impressed with the ‘grandeur’ of the setting). More interesting, I think, is the way in which each of us chooses to decorate our workspace.
It’s ironic, if you think about it, how easily influenced, in either a positive or negative way, by something so seemingly simple as office wall hangings. Take, for example, the following:
>DOCTORS/LAWYERS/ET AL walls are invariably hung with all those ornate, Latinate-inscribed certificates and diplomas. Who knows what they really say? First in class at school – or last? Medical quack or legal shyster? Who really knows. Though we’re all pretty well accustomed to doctors and lawyers playing the certificate card, I’m still surprised when i see full-grown, even older workers, indulge in the same corny display. What is this? Third grade perfect attendance award? Ooh, Mommy, Daddy, everyone in the whole wide world, look at what a good boy/girl I am!!!!
>POLITICIANS/OFFICIALS/ETC seem to have an affinity, or fetish, if you like, for having an inordinate amount of hardware on display. Plaques, trophies, ‘Man of the Year’ awards, and the like. They think, I suppose, that this lends them an air of credibility and affirms their popularity. You may as well be looking at a 12 year olds’ Little League trophies. You know the kind – plastic ball player statues coated in gold metallic paint. While we’re on the subject, ever notice co-workers who also insist on displaying their athletic achievement stuff at work? Whenever I’ve seen these, I know for sure that this person is toast, and more atrophied than trophied. Like, ‘I have a life outside of here, and that’s where I really shine’. Retire, please.
>RIDDLERS/GHOSTS AND SHADOWS are those of our co-workers who, for any one of a number of reasons, opt to declare their spaces as ‘tabula rasas,’ or blank slates. The emptiness, the blank walls, the cold colors alone send a powerful, if puzzling, message. Included in this category is the aloof, clipped ‘professional’ who prides himself on being glacial. This is such a trite, old school corporate ploy that it’s laughable. Like we’re supposed to be intimidated by this crap…gimme a break!
>STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE offices are reserved for those females who are so damned ambivalent as to their identities that they want to appear to be ultra ‘tough’ and very ‘feminine’ at the same time. So, and while they want to be seen as modern-day executives with all of the perks, these same types will also insist on having their offices painted hot pink, and festoon their work space with a bunch of girly-girl chatchkas. I mean, if you want to play in the big leagues, leave the doll house crap behind. ‘Cause the rest of find this silly posturing neither charming or alarming; merely obnoxious.
>THE REST OF US for the most part, like to somewhat personalize our space, especially since we do spend so much time in the confines of our cube/office. And that’s healthy. Travel trinkets, genericky posters, family photos (yeah, even those in the kid-made macaroni frames), as well as other items that either stimulate or relax us are fine. It goes without saying, of course, that anything controversial will promptly bring you to the attention of the HR and EEO po-lice. And as for religious stuff, why not give everyone a break, and spare us your shrine. And please, please-resist the temptation to build a nest where you work.