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The corner office

I’m sitting in it right now. The corner office. My corner office. My first day in my corner office. Only it doesn’t feel a whole lot different than my last office, or any other office for that matter.

When I started my working career decades ago with a large defense contractor, I worked in a cube with two other employees. Eventually I moved into a cube of my own – a very small cube. There was my desk and my chair, and not enough room for even another chair. After a few years I had a larger cube that did have room for another chair.

corner-officeThis was a very hierarchical organization, and you pretty much knew the rank of the person by where they officed. Cube farms proliferated. Supervisors moved from a standard cube to a cube with a table and four chairs. Managers moved into a ceiling-high office on the interior of the building. Directors moved into an office on the exterior of the building – with a window. Vice Presidents had a larger exterior office. And the President/CEO had the corner office on the top floor.

So if you were climbing the corporate ladder, the corner office was the end goal. But I actually kind of liked the cube I had last, before I left the organization. While it wasn’t very large, it was in a section of the building where there were no exterior-side offices, and my cube faced a wall of windows on the ninth floor of the building. I had a great view.

When I left the corporate life and joined this world, where most smaller companies are in one-story office/production/warehouse buildings, the whole corner office thing went out the window. We office where we have room, and depending on the growth path of the company, and the need to hire more people in a given space, that could change at a rapid pace.

Last spring we signed a new lease with our landlord and, in so doing, he agreed to a full renovation of the office space in this building. We’ve spent the last six months living in temporary quarters while the offices were gutted and rebuilt. In the process, my office ended up in the front corner of the building. The corner office.

It is no larger than the next three offices down the hall. It has no more windows – one – than any other office in the building. But I am now in the corner office. Woohoo!

But it doesn’t feel much different than my last office. Where’s the wood paneled walls and deep luxurious leather furniture? The desk the size of an aircraft carrier’s deck? The secretary just outside my door answering to my every whim? The private club membership? The helicopter to take me home at night?

I’m still dealing with the same issues I’ve dealt with for the last 14 years of business ownership. I’m still working with existing clients and working to get new ones. I’m still coaching and managing a sales force to try to grow the business. I’m still trying to manage cash flow and expenses.

I thought when you hit the corner office, everyone else did all the work, and you just…well…were the boss. There is no less work in this office than in any other office in this building. In fact, it seems to be more. We all have brand new offices now. And we’re all doing as much work – or more – than we were in our old, rundown offices.

There is some new energy in the team to go along with the new offices, but I suspect that will wear out, just as the new carpet and new desk furniture will also wear out. The bottom line is we’re all still working hard to serve our clients better and to make a success of this business. Another lesson learned: It’s not the location of the office; it’s what you do in the office that counts.

So much for the myth of the corner office.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the trade show industry over 30 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He is a partner in a new company: Reveal: Exhibiting a World of Difference. He can be reached at jobermeyer@revealexhibits.com.

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