We’ve had an office move at work over the weekend. Nothing major, just a bit of a rejig in the same big room. Of course I knew it was happening, and I’d had a look at the location of my new desk, but when I came in on Monday morning I still felt lost.

No-one was where I expected them to be; while I knew where my desk and my team’s desks were, I hadn’t really taken in the rest of the moves. My new desk wasn’t facing the way it had on the plan, because health and safety meant that some of the configurations had had to be rotated. And whoever had (very kindly) set my equipment up had done it the opposite way round; drawer pedestal on the left, phone on the left, computer stuff on the right. I was reaching to the wrong side for things, and stopping myself halfway, all morning. I went to make a brew in the hope of restoring normality, and almost walked into a pillar that shouldn’t have been there.

I was thoroughly disoriented. Ironic, because disorient is derived from the French ‘to turn from the east’, which is the way my desk now faces. No wonder I was confused.

It wasn’t just me, either. People were wandering round, trying to trace the colleagues who had suddenly vanished, and every so often that day a laugh, or a ‘there you are!’ would come from somewhere in the room as a reunion took place. We were pleased to find people whose presence we would usually take for granted.

I hadn’t appreciated the effect that a minor office move would have on us. It’s only temporary, I’m sure. Before long this will be the new normal, and having the phone on the right-hand side of the desk will seem utterly wrong. But it struck me as a good illustration of how accustomed we get to little things, and how even a minor change can have unexpected effects.

The featured image is Spiralling by abstractartangel77/off and on, and is shared by permission of Creative Commons license 2.0.

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