Today is Blog Action Day. Do you like to work in a clean office?
Your home is your home. Your private space. Your inner sanctum. Your castle. Your refuge. Your pig sty. Your anti-dust zone. Your pile of papers. Your clean-enough-to-eat-off-the-kitchen-floor abode.
Your home belongs to you. You can make it as neat or sloppy or cozy or post-modern as you want—it is yours. If you have a family or a roommate, your home is still a relatively private bubble.
But your office—your workplace—is a shared space. You and others, either just a few or many, come together, many days a week for many hours of those days to produce, be creative, have meetings and work towards some shared vision (ideally).
Imagine one day, you walk into your office. Your co-worker in the next cubicle has been slowly letting trash and garbage pile up in his space. Now, it is in your space.
You thought you'd smelled something rancid percolating for days, and now you know it’s not a dead mouse decaying beneath the floorboards. It’s “Mr. Stinky”, your former cubicle buddy.
You step around the fabric wall and shout “Hey! Your garbage is in my space!” He pretends to ignore you, tossing a paper coffee cup and muffin wrapper at your feet. Shocked and repulsed, your nostrils burning and eyes tearing, you back away quickly.
You go to your cubicle neighbor on the other side. “Do you see what Mr. Stinky is doing?”
“No,” she says firmly, looking only at her cubicle. “No, I don’t.”
“Don’t you smell it?” you ask, incredulous and frustrated.
“Smell what?” she replies, spraying lavender oil in the air and waving a handful of pine-tree scented car fresheners in front of your nose.
“Ugh!” you reply, as you stomp back to your newly undesirable surroundings.
Mr. Stinky’s garbage continues to grow. No one stops him.
You begin to mention to your co-workers that it’s getting harder to work at your desk because of the smell and debris. Some suggest that you move to another cubicle; you can’t, as there aren’t any open ones available.
The smell is really beginning to get to you, and you go to human resources to ask if there’s anything that can be done. The HR director says there are two options: 1) Quit your job, or 2) Wear a gas mask. You can’t just quit the job: it took you six months to find it, and there’s no way you’re living without health benefits again. You take the gas mask.
Mr. Stinky continues to push the boundaries of appropriate office behavior. Co-workers take alternate routes away from his cubicle to avoid the litter and odor. Some desperate ones don rubber boots and sprint through the growing garbage, holding their noses closed, if they’re late for meetings and can’t take the “long-cut” around it.
Until one day, CRASH! Slurp. GURRGLE!!!!! The garbage pile that has grown to block an entire passageway has now spilled into the photocopier room. It has clogged the fax machine. It has filled up the in-boxes. For the finale, it has encroached upon the air-conditioned ice palace of a server room, the nerve center for all company communications and profit making. All computers go down. Business is now in the dumps.
The click-clacking of keyboards and pings of IMing stop. A silence never heard before in this raging, thriving hive descends heavily. With a great whoosh, the only door in the entire workspace flies open. The president of the company emerges from the corner office. “What the..............?!?!?!?” booms a roaring, livid voice across the cubicle farm.
So, what happens? Does the president make a policy outlawing inter-office garbage dumps? Who picks decaying bagel bits out of the fax machine? Is Mr. Stinky "job-eliminated"? Do people finally listen to their co-workers’ experiences and empathize? Or does this sad, stinky situation happen over and over again?
When I hear some argue against environmental reforms by saying, “Polluting cars don’t cause global warming—that's silly!” or “It doesn’t matter if some company dumps chemicals into the water—those people are just alarmists!”, I think of the offices I've worked in. They are clean, tidy places that are kept that way so we can get our work done.
Even a little polluted air and dirtied waters mess up the experience for many on this planet. When workspaces get messy, it’s hard to work or create or relate or enjoy or move forward on anything.
It’s just common sense. Let’s keep our shared spaces clean, people—especially Earth. Everything will work a whole lot better.
As of today, 12,000 blogs and 15 million readers are part of Blog Action Day. I have no doubt that next year's event will clock this completely.