Ed Hunter: The Unwritten Office Seating Plan

Your seat in the office dramatically impacts your daily happiness. And yet, despite your best efforts it’s one of the most uncontrollable factors of your working life.

“Ooooh not us, we hot desk” you muse smugly.

Sad news.

That only makes your situation worse. It means you’ll be in a rush to get in every morning, just to escape sitting next to the office hygiene maverick who still refuses to use deodorant.

If you don’t have a ‘first come, first swerved’ attitude to seating, your position’s based on the whim of your boss.

They’ll often decide things aren’t working.

They stand up, step out from their desk and scan the landscape pondering their really great idea.

This will either fill you full of excitement or dread. Depending on how happy you are with your current vantage point.

And though you might not have realised it, there are unwritten rules to your position which affect your daily life.

These are those rules…


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You sit next to the front door

Congratulations on your new wardrobe from ASOS.

Most delivery drivers can’t be arsed to get out their van, let alone get a signature. On top of that, a squiggle with your finger in the vague direction of a recognisable letter normally suffices convincing them of your identity.

As your new position of ‘delivery monitor’ starts to piss you off, you’ll at least have your pick of clothes, gifts from Amazon and stationery to grease your wheels.


Ed Hunter Office Seating Plan

You sit in the middle of the room

You take a quick dip into social media over lunch… everyone sees.

A phone call goes south leaving you visibly shaken… everyone judges.

You turn the air blue after getting knee deep in the local over lunch… everyone hears.

There’s no escape when you’re the piggy in the middle.

You also might want to consider bringing in a helmet to work.

Every ‘stress ball missile’ thrown wantonly into the ether will now hit either your head, or your coffee. You can’t choose which, but the anger with which it’s thrown will be evident in the aftermath.

Take the power back by equipping your helmet with a ‘headset extension’ and dual loaded beer can holders.

Also, keep hold of at least one stress ball for each hand when it all gets too much.


Ed Hunter The Unwritten Office Seating Plan

You sit next to the boss

“Do you have any idea how much work I do on a daily basis?” Moans your tiresome gaffer.

Well, now you do. And the answer’s sweet F.A.

Unless you count passive aggressive emails, phone time ‘analysis’, flirting with the Office Manager and shouting “it’s like a morgue in here” as work… which no one does.

Guess who’s going to be on the phone all day and completing their KPIs through a plastered smile now though?

That’s right champ, it’s you.

The phone’s your new best friend. You may well start performing now, but prepare to burnout in about 3 weeks from exhaustion.

“Can we step it up in here please guys?” you stand up and shout, in a bid to get on the boss’s good side.

It won’t work.

The only thing worse than a kiss ass is someone who doesn’t hit target. Which you’ve still not done and you’re two days in.



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You sit next to the newbie

“We were all new once.”

“They’re asking you, because you’re good. It’s a compliment.”

“You can write ‘manager’ on your CV.”

All things you tell yourself in the mirror as you wipe away the tears and get ready for another afternoon of questions even Google would smirk at.

“Ed, can you help me work out this guy’s daily rate from what they said they want per month?”

“Boss can I see you in the boardroom quickly?”


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You sit next to the window

You’ve got two eventualities here.

1) The glare from the sun is so bright you can’t see WTF’s happening for half of the day

2) You’re freezing. Constantly f**king freezing.

Oh, and unless you can control the weather, you can’t choose which.

There’s a few benefits with sitting next to the window of course.

Firstly, your screen’s never facing the snake pit. Which means you can shirk in peace.

And secondly, you can cry for help in playful messages facing outwards.

Maybe a CV printed on A2 paper or simply “please kill me” in a plea to passing ‘have-a-go-heroes’.


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You sit next to the kitchen

Like the smell of tuna? Because you’re going to be smelling a lot of it.

And if that doesn’t rile you up, the sound of the microwave permeating through every phone call will. Also, you’re now responsible for the state of the kitchen, whether you’ve used it or not.

Expect cute notes left near your peripheral like…

“Your mum DOESN’T work here”

Or just being in deafening proximity to the boss’s booming tirade announcing their disgust.

Positively, as the company-wide fork shortage nears nightmare levels, you’ll have first opportunity to stock pile them in your desk every morning.

“Hmmm… technically don’t need one for soup, but just in case”


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You sit near the ‘break out area’

Ever tried to work in a tree, whilst a woodpecker tries to take the whole thing down using only his beak? Where every 7th tap is greeted by an eruption of cheering and laughter?

Welcome to your new home next to the table tennis.

If you’re the one recruitment agency in the world without ‘whiff whaff’, it’ll be pool, which is less frequent noise pollution, but a lot louder.

Of course the boisterous reactions to every shot are the worst part. Luckily pool cues make for great shivs.

Invest in some noise cancelling headphones, immediately.

Or just rip off your ears, and you’ve got a fairly decent excuse for not hitting your phone time target.


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You sit under the flickery light

There’s always one in every office.

In this case, it’s right above your head and probably follows you with every relocation.

You might wonder whether this is your manager’s doing, and whether staying late to change the bulbs counts as workplace bullying.

If you’ve suffered from epilepsy in the past, it might be worth putting in a seating request.

If you haven’t, expect to shortly.


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You sit next to the printer

Grrrrrrggggjjjjjjjjjj peerrrrrrtttttttttteeeeeee grrghggjgggggggg…

“Who’s printed out an entire e-book on city breaks?! We’re on 173 pages and now out of black ink! I’ve got to print these CVs in red and the client’s colour blind!”

Imagine you lived inside an old dial-up modem.

That’s your reality if you work near the printer.

Your productivity will crash through the floor and you’re going to have to pull the kids out of school due to your dwindling finances.

But hey, at least you have a social life now.

Expect a ‘stop and chat’ every time someone prints something. They’ll announce the conversation’s started by slamming into your chair from behind.

“Ooh feeling on edge Ed? You’re so nervy! HAHAHA… printer not working no?”


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You sit under the Air Con

The average temperature on earth went so high this year it broke all records.

Which means next summer, you’ll only need one coat and a thin scarf to get through the day.

If you can’t feel your toes and are worried your fingers might fall off, the office temperature’s probably about right.

Obviously you can complain, but you can’t touch the thermostat unless you’ve done a deal this month. And since your eyelids froze shut, you’ve got no idea whether that’s you or not.

 The last unwritten rule about the office seating plan is this…

Whatever seat you’ve got now, however unsavoury you think it is, it’s better than changing.

If your boss stands up with purpose and starts scanning the room, distract them as quickly as possible.

Until next time, here’s how to tell if your desks’s hot.