We’ve been through a lot together. It was approximately 12 years ago that he was walked over to where I sat, extended his hand introducing himself and sat down. Coming from outside the organization, I knew nothing of him prior to that moment; well nothing beyond my office mate was male.
“Hi I’m Trevor, nice to meet you.” Are those his exact words? Truth be told my memory isn’t that good! However, it was something like that. Now our office isn’t that large. In fact, the Supervisor that occupies the office next to us has the same square foot space all to himself. We’re so close to each other we can lean back in our chairs and high five each other if we want. In short, it’s the kind of space where you’d better get along with each other because once you add the two chairs, tables, a lateral cabinet and one chair for a guest, you don’t have a lot of free space to move around.
Our time together is soon coming to an end, as Trevor has made a decision to take a lateral move and work on one of the other teams in our office. That move necessitates a relocation and thus it is that as the longest serving partners in our office, we’ll each get new office mates. While he’s leaving, the change isn’t reserved for him alone though. Spend a dozen years working alongside anyone and when that time is up, both of us will be impacted. Whether I remain in the same space or get relocated myself to a space new to me is as yet unknown, but it will represent a change for me even if I don’t physically pack up and move.
If you’re in a similar situation to me, having shared your workspace with someone else for a long period of time, you know how you work things out together. Over time you get to know how you work best together. For example, I found that being sensitive to light and getting headaches as a result, he appreciated it greatly when we had the overhead bulbs removed from our lighting. That leaves our office darker in the a.m.; so much so that I have two small lamps on my desk which exudes a warmth until the morning sun through our window lights the place up sufficiently they aren’t required.
We’ve come to respect the other guy a lot too. I’m so much better for his wisdom, support, kindness and his generosity. I hope he feels the same way about me too; in fact if I’m honest, I know he feels the same way. We’ve always had great care for each other, especially when we’ve vented, been stressed over something or wanted to pitch an idea. It’s curious that over all that time, we’ve actually done very few workshops together as co-facilitators. We’re both very adept at sole facilitation, and as we’ve grown to a dozen of us on the team, the times we’ve been paired up to co-present has waned. Ah, but everyday we talk with each other about our groups, how the people are coming along, those that shine and those that struggle.
We talk sports with each other too; him with his college football team out of Alabama and me with my Alouettes out of Montreal. Yesterday he told me just how much he’s going to miss our sports conversations. It’s not that we can’t get up, walk around the office and have those chats, it’s just that they won’t happen on the spur of the moment, natural like. And of course we’d have to be mindful of the other person sharing that space; be it in his new location or the office we currently share with someone else sitting where he sits now.
As much as we’ve got along so well, it’s time he left. We’re at different stages in life and he’s destined for new challenges, new responsibilities and perhaps down the road a promotion. Diversifying his experience now puts him in a better place to make such a move, and I couldn’t be happier for him.
So one day this week, I suspect there’ll be an email go around announcing the pairings to come. With 3 new staff in our office arriving this week, and some staff in addition to Trevor on the move, we could have as many as 20 people impacted with those changes. With these moves, change is going to impact the entire office. Knowing someone and sharing a space with them are two different things. You have to find the boundaries all over again; music no music while working? Lighting or none? Who gets the lateral cabinet or do you share it? And of course the personalities of the two people in such a small space have to gel in some way. That adjustment period can be short or long depending on care, styles, attitudes and respect.
As for speculation, I’m not really doing that. I don’t have any guesses really, and I’ve other things to think about beyond whom the next office mate is. I do hope the two of us hit it off and if we come even close to the relationship Trevor and I forged together I’ll feel fortunate indeed.
You don’t go into a job thinking about developing a strong relationship with someone but it can happen. Thanks Trevor; for everything.