A couple of years ago, inspired by a particularly strong run of design programmes exalting the virtues of ‘efficient space', I found myself applying the thinking to solve a particular seating challenge at work.
A few weeks after signing off on the plan I sat at my desk, went to place my coffee cup as I had done every day for three years and waited for the reassuring contact with the surface, which never came.
The issue lay somewhere between me being over-zealous with the space saving and a Brexit-esque confusion over imperial vs metric measurements. The result was an order of new desk units that would have been rejected from the set design of Lilliput for being too small.
My foray into that particular field ended there. But unlikely as it may seem, my teeny tiny desk has become my secret work weapon.
One of the main benefits of a desk that is unfit for purpose is that it is highly challenging to work from it. Its ergonomic shortcomings serve as a daily, no hourly, reminder that I must never get complacent, must never feel too comfortable (no chance!) in the role. Moreover I have found that nothing keeps me more focused, more on my toes, more prepared for challenges that lie ahead as the need to adopt the ‘brace’ position just to stay in my designated work area.
But it doesn’t just serve as a guiding theoretical principal. ‘Desk-gate’ has driven me to power through emails as efficiently as humanly possible for fear of holding the contorted position for too long and staying like that forever.
The counter pose of wandering around the agency not only means I get to randomly bump into people and start conversations that may never have taken place otherwise, but there’s a lot to be said, especially in our ever-changing industry, for looking at things with a fresh, broader perspective from time to time and not getting into habits that are hard to move away from.
I was going to add that I can’t let any work pile up but there’s photographic evidence to the contrary.
Tammy Einav is joint-chief executive officer of Adam & Eve/DDB