Should I be miffed about this? [workplace seating seniority issue]

So I sit in a cube farm at work. It’s your typical farm where all the cubes are pretty much the same. The managers offices are in the middle of the floor with cubes all around the outside so that we get more natural light than the managers do. Our cube walls are 4 feet high, some privacy when sitting down but they let the window light spread throughout the floor.

This place rearranges people every now and then, as teams grow and shrink. I’ve moved my cube location once so far (in three years). For the most part I don’t really care where I sit because:

a) as I said, all the cubes are pretty much the same and have good natural light
b) it’s not likely to last long and I’ll be rearranged at some point again

For the entire time I’ve been here, reporting to two managers, I’ve been told over and over again that the cubes closest to the windows get assigned on a seniority basis. So as the new person, don’t expect to sit there. Fair enough.

Last week they did another rearrangement and this time they put our newest teammate in a cube next to the windows. One the one hand, I don’t care much because of the above. On the other hand, I’m thinking “WTH?” because they make it crystal clear that the window seats go to seniority. I was not likely to get that seat anyway because one of my senior coworkers was in line to get it. He pointed out that he’s been sitting directly across from our manager for years so he would appreciate getting a little distance/privacy as well as a window seat. I’m really wondering why he didn’t get that seat and wondering if he’s pissed off about it.

I feel like it’s kind of shallow, but yet… also human to think of seniority and fairness in the allocation of finite resources. Thoughts?

I don’t know that you should be miffed about it, as you note that in this case, your ox is not being gored. However, your colleague has a legitimate right to wonder if this is (1) some subtle message by the bosses to him, (2) a changeup in ‘normal’ procedures, or (3) just a FUBAR on the part of someone doing the reorg.

If it’s criitcal to him, he can ask (informally) about it, otherwise I think it is a MYOB situation…IMHO as always. YMMV.

You’re right. Actually the expected migration to the window seat based on seniority on our team would have been “Bob”, then “John” then me. So they skipped three of us and sat “Susie” there.

I think my issue is more the principle of it, than personal ox-goring. Meaning that if management makes such a big deal out of something like this, that makes it a “thing”. It sort of attaches value to the window seats that might not otherwise be there (after all, some people don’t like to sit by windows for various reasons). So I think the principle is that if they work so hard to attach that value to it, then they need to understand the hard feelings that ensue when they suddenly and without notification, do the opposite.

I’d be inclined to ask “So, are window seats not assigned by seniority anymore?”

It’s a simple request for information that doesn’t make any statement regarding how you feel about the matter, but does indicate that you remember what was said previously and notice what’s happening now.

Do you know for a fact that the other two in line didn’t decline this desk before it was offered to the newer employee? Any chance they just didn’t want to shift? Or have inside info that perhaps a better desk will come available in a few weeks time?

It seems like there could be a lot of reasonable explanations that you’re just not privy to maybe. I’d let it lie and keep your ears open, some small detail that gives this all context may be revealed in the near future.

There could be a lot of reasons you are not privy to. If the cubicle happens to be closest to the door or elevator, and “Susie” has a mobility issue, it could have been assigned for that reason. If she has diabetes, and it’s closest to the bathroom, or some other room she needs access to-- maybe she isn’t allowed to have sharps disposal in her cubicle, and has to go some place for a noon insulin injection, and the office is closest to that place, it’s some kind of compromise because she made a stink about not having sharps disposal in her cubicle.

I could come up with hypotheticals all day; the point is, there may be a legitimate reason you may never know, and that people may not be allowed to tell you (HIPAA). I’d let it go, especially since you don’t have a horse in the race. If your colleague who actually was next in line asks you for advice, I’d tell him to ask his supervisor if cubicles are still being assigned the same way, of if there was some new determiner. If he’s going to be away from the light for the foreseeable future, he might like to buy a lamp, if that’s OK. If nothing else, he might get a free lamp from supply.

Well, both managers have told me repeatedly (not that I needed it pounded into my head, it just seemed like a touchy topic for them because people jockey for those seats) that the window seats go by seniority. I’ve even been told that when the next seats come open, they would go to “Bob”, then “John” and then to me. If “Bob” declined, then they’d offer it to “John”, and if both declined then I’d get the offer.

This is all verbal, of course.

Rivkah, the cube in question is not near the elevator or bathroom or any other convenience other than the window. What you say is true, but that’s why I bring it up as a topic of conversation here, rather than storming into my manager’s office. :wink:

Another thing is that this is all happening within my team where I know everyone and we work under the same manager. I have no opinion on what other teams do.

Since you are not being personally impacted, I would frame it this way, “Well, we used to assign cubicles based on seniority, but I guess we don’t any more! Huh.” And let it go.

Then, in the future, if it changes back, just note to yourself that it changed back! It is a manager’s prerogative to change their mind.

But it could be anything– maybe she pumps breastmilk during the day, and that cubicle has the most privacy, or an extra outlet for the mini-fridge she needs.

Or maybe there was a note from above that maintenance or IT now has to be involved in moves, so they have to be kept to certain weeks, except in the case of a new employee coming in. Maybe over the next slow period, you’ll get told this is the time for musical cubicles, and “Susie” will get put in the nastiest cubicle possible.

I would just assume that they have some reason, and not put them on the spot about it, but that’s just me. You know them better than I do. How much would “JcWoman is miffed about the cubicle assignments,” call unwanted attention to you, and get you either on someone’s shitlist, or their “Isn’t she a special snowflake” list?

Bolding mine.

I think your answer in contained within the question.

OTOH, RivkahChaya’s facts-less contortions to justify this are amazing. “Maybe she has mobility issues.” “Maybe she has diabetes.” And maybe she’s got a hot bod.

All this “don’t make waves” talk is so cowardly. Just ask. They’re not going to fire you for asking. And if they do, is that really the kind of place you want to work for?

JustAskingQuestions, not sure what your bolding had to do with an answer. Are you suggesting she was young and cute (that’s how I think of ladies named Susie)? Or something else? It’s not that as Susie is actually a very large woman and not especially attractive. My manager and I are both women, so it’s not a gender thing, either.

I asked Bob, the guy who should have been moved there and his response was “good question”, followed by “I’ve been asking for a window seat for years and always told no”.

My suspicion is that it all happened so fast (we tend to find out on THE DAY that we need to move), probably he was working from home, the next guy John is out on PTO and I was at an offsite business meeting, so our manager just told Susie to move there because it was quickest. Expedient, but shitty. I’m going to ask her tactfully about it and see what she says.

Update for those who are curious:

I politely asked my manager how that happened. Apparently one of the other managers (one of her peers at the same management level) was rearranging her team and wanted to put one of her team into the cube that Susie was in. This other manager moved everybody, including Susie, before my manager could express her wishes for where Susie should go!

It’s interesting that one manager can push others around. More fun times in corporation-land. (That’s one that Rivkah didn’t think of! :smiley: )

It’s entirely possible that management forgot about this policy/tradition. Maybe you could subtly hint/nudge them about it.

It’s up to you, but I’d leave it alone. If you bring it up, you come across as petty. Besides, you’ve already said you don’t care (much).

This is a stretch - maybe it’s a test, to see who might complain. Let someone else more senior than you bring it up. If they don’t, just leave it be.

I already have my answer so I’ve dropped it (at work). But I think some of you are confused and maybe I didn’t explain clearly, my bad. This is one of those things where it’s up to each manager to set their own policy. It’s pretty common in a corporation to give managers a lot of leeway in how they run their own teams.

So this seniority policy was only for my team. Other managers did things their own way. We have about 4 different teams in this department.

So really, what it came down to was one manager “taking liberties” with another manager’s report. I’m just fascinated by corporate politics!

I think there’s a larger lesson here. It’s not a good one.

IMO anything that you may think of as a carrot being dangled by management is an illusion. It might get doled out as expected. Or it might not. For reasons of whim, corruption, random luck, or simple incompetent stupidity.

These people may have “manager” in their title, but it’s nowhere in their skill set.

Whether it’s window seats, weekends off, better parking spaces or little bits of brightly colored ribbon for your shirt, people work for the rewards they’ve been promised. Good people treasure these things out of all proportion to their extrinsic value. Because good people work for recognition more than for anything else.

Bad managers pull these vital rugs out from under their good people for many reasons. Like I said it’s whim, corruption, random luck, or simple incompetent stupidity.

IMO JcWoman’s various threads show pretty conclusively that she’s a good person and good worker stuck in a toxic incompetent company. Why she’s spending time here versus job-hunting is the larger mystery.

Disagree. Good employees identify with their work and their company and work hard because the work is rewarding. They feel as though they’re working towards some higher purpose. A good worker at Uber, for instance isn’t working hard because they want an office with a window, they’re working hard because they believe that Uber represents, I don’t know, freedom or a ‘better way’ or whatever. I’m not saying that everyone (or even most) employee works because they love their company, heck, I work because the pay allows me to do the things I REALLY want to do. I’m just saying that the ‘good’ ones do. And that stating that ‘good’ employees need some reward to reach for is incorrect.

Anyway, if you’re at work obsessing over whether you should have gotten that window seat, maybe that’s not the right company for you. As you noted, the managers don’t have window seats.

But, I do wish to note that you don’t seem to be obsessed about seating, you seem more curious than anything.

. . .

I would have thought a good worker at Uber would automatically have an “office” with a window, and ideally four windows, just as a matter of safety…

Thank you! I do have a high work ethic and am frequently stymied by corporate policies or management practices. I’m not job hunting but instead developing my own next new job where my asshole boss is already known but at least I know I can cuss her out without getting fired. (In other words, I’m working on an entrepreneurial gig.) This place is actually not as bad as a few others I’ve worked at, and it is a steady paycheck while I establish my own thing.

Yeah, just curious. For me it was the appearance of hypocrisy: manager beat that seniority book so many times and then suddenly, without warning or any word to anyone we come to work to find the newest person in the “seniority” seat. I’m glad it turned out she wasn’t a hypocrite and fascinated that it was the machinations of another manager.

I agree with LSLGuy that it’s one of those things where they tell you something is a policy all day, every day until the day they decide it’s not policy, completely at their convenience. Like the old company I used to work for that had an extremely strict timecard policy (on penalty of termination, in bold letters and signed annually that we read it) that included **never **to fill in your timecard in advance. (…except when there’s a holiday and the payroll team wants Friday off so then you submit your timecard on Thursday, guessing what your Friday work will be.)

I was going to suggest it made sense from a training perspective. Slot in a new hire next to experience.