I work for a US multinational that can be anally retentive at the best of times. The toilet-brush incident is an example of this. Lots went down since the toilet-brush fiasco that I’ve failed to notice; I’ve become desensitised. Nothing caught my attention until last week.
Last week the facilities department sent an email that read something along as follows:
Tidy Up Friday
Next week, we have VIPs arriving. We need to make a special effort to keep our working areas clean and tidy. Employees are reminded of the tidy desk policy.
To add incentive we have decided to award a prize to most tidy desk. The winner of most tidy desk will be announced next week.
This email sent me into a nostalgic state. I remembered the evenings I collected my brother from his nursery school. If I collected him early enough I witnessed “Tidy Up Time!”
Tidy Up Time involved the minders of children encouraging the young kids to gather up paper strewn across tables, collect markers and crayons and put away Duplo blocks.
“Tidy Up Time,” the minders gently encouraged the children.
“Tidy Up Time” answered the children. The children repeated this over and over as a song.
It seemed my employer intended encouraging an adult equivalent of Tidy Up Time. This was scheduled for Friday afternoon. I laughed and thought no more of it.
Thursday, pre-Tidy Up Time day, arrived. Our team lead sent an email, gently reminding our department that the level of tidiness was going to be reviewed. He encouraged us to make a “special effort”.
No one really bothered making any effort to tidy until 15.30 on Friday evening. By then the shredding bin over flowed with paper. The clutter on desks was shoved into drawers.
I pulled open my large drawer to unexpectedly find three pairs of shoes. I threw two pairs in the bin and replaced the other in the drawer. I carried a large pile of paper to the shredding bin.
Minutes later, I returned to find my department talking amongst themselves in hushed tones. I sensed unhappiness.
“Who expected them to come around and check before 16.00?” one colleague enquired.
“We only started cleaning a few minutes ago,” replied another colleague.
“What happened?” I questioned.
“The Tidy Desk Committee just came around to do an inspection. They declared this the worst part of the building.” She seemed a little fazed by events.
“You mean there’s a Tidy Desk Committee?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes, there is and they think we have the worst area in the building,” replied my colleague again.
I did nothing to hide my laughter at the fact a committee had been appointed.
The Tidy Desk Committee did another round of inspection today. Despite the fact we did a thorough tidy, they are still not happy.
I won’t pretend to not be disappointed. I thought “Winner of Tidiest Desk 2009” might make a good addition to my CV.