The Practitioner: cooking up trouble

WE HAVE RECENTLY had a staff kitchen installed at one of our offices, complete with dining table and fridge. It has transformed our office dynamics.

Previously, people would happily spend the whole day cooped up in their own rooms and never really leave until 5:01pm, managing to get through a whole day without interacting with anyone else.

The kitchen has changed everything, now they are forced to talk to each other!
So much so that I’m thinking of making badges for everyone so they can remember the names of their fellow staff members, people they would normally only have seen at the Xmas party, or in the queue to leave the office at night. Now they see them every day around the kitchen table.

It’s interesting to see how everyone is coping; certain staff members will take five minutes to eat their lunch in the kitchen then they are straight back up in their rooms. Others will take the full hour to enjoy talking about the office gossip, or to slag off the management.

On the odd occasion that myself and some of the other partners have been in the kitchen for lunch, the mood is decidedly different.

Conversation is stifled, awkward, and mostly work related. I have a little game going on where I leave the kitchen, making them think I’m going back to my office, then quickly return 30 seconds later to catch them mid-conversation talking about the office gossip, or how they were surprised that I had ham sandwiches with no salad.

One benefit of having the kitchen installed is that we are certainly saving on cleaning bills. Since food has been forbidden from desks and restricted to the kitchen area, the desks, carpets, keyboards and monitors are much cleaner. The food ban also hopefully eliminates the possibility of finding another month-old Cornish pasty in Malcolm’s drawer; not a pretty sight.

I’ve heard a rumour that staff are considering clubbing together to buy a toaster, a microwave and a sandwich maker. I’m not sure if the partners are going to be asked to contribute, but we will probably still use them all the same. All hell will break loose, but at least it will give them something to talk about around the kitchen table.

I can’t wait to tell them we are having a shower installed next month.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England

Related reading