In my last newsroom, working for Ohio’s largest newspaper, I didn’t have my own desk. Reporters could claim a space at one of the long, counter-like tables that served as workstations as long as we pretended to clear out by the end of the day. Anyone stocking a pencil holder, or posting a family photo, could be accused of “hoteling.”
Despite a steady drubbing of layoffs, pay freezes and furloughs, space was at a premium. Our corporate owners had moved us from the paper’s roomy headquarters to a leased office above a downtown mall. The new address was too small to hold us all, should everyone expect to be treated like they worked there. We were given backpacks to make it easier to co-work from Starbucks or our cars.
Imagine my surprise when I reported for work in public relations, having leaped from the unfolding train wreck that is newspaper journalism after 30 rewarding years. I was escorted to a cubicle with my name on it, one with my choice of desktop computer or Wi-Fi enabled docking station, book shelves and file drawers, even a small closet in which to hang my jacket.
My pencil holder held a shiny new pair of scissors. People smiled when I posted a picture of my kids.