You may never like the assigned seat at your job. In most cases, the worst scenarios always seem to play out over and over with every new office job you land. They give you that crumby isolated cubicle located right next to, or even worse, not even remotely close to the bathroom. The co-worker directly next to you heats up gross leftovers for lunch that somehow always seem to smell like rotten garbage and the vent located directly above your desk sends unforgiving blasts of cold in your direction all day long. If you are reading this and don’t know what I am talking about, be thankful. You are one of the lucky ones. For the rest of us, it can completely sour the experience of working for a company.
Charles Teague, the CEO of the inventive weight loss app Lose It!, understands just how soul-crushing a horrible seat at your job can be and has taken a new inventive way to shake things up at his company. At the end of every quarter, he holds a company performance review and at the end of that meeting, he has all of his employees switch desks at random creating a totally new seating chart for the office. As Teague explains it he can’t help but laugh about how great the process is. “We crack a couple beers,” he says, “and then we turn the crank on a bingo cage with ping-pong balls inside of it and draw up desk assignments for the next quarter”.
He believes this is the best way for an employee to both gain a deeper understanding of the company they work for and to build office friendships with people they may not have interacted with before. “There’s a set of people that you just don’t have a professional reason to talk to all of the time,” explains Teague, “your work doesn’t intersect with their work. But if you’re sitting next to each other, it’s impossible not to… So with this idea, that people can informally talk to one another, often times what we find is not only do they get to know each other but that their work actually does intersect. None of us were thinking about that and none of us saw that opportunity. Suddenly we were like ‘we should be doing this!’”
With this policy, not even high-ranking employees at Lose It! are safe from the bingo cage. This includes Teague himself. And before the policy went into full effect, he had his reservations. “We were nervous the first time we did it, just because it was going to be random,” he says “there are better desks and worse desks but it actually helps every quarter. The quarter I get a really crappy desk, next quarter I can just move and I’ll probably get a desk right by the window.” The main point Teague wants to hammer home, is that he wants his employees to feel like they are all in this together. Even if it takes getting out of their comfort zone a little bit.