Your boss is sitting next to you…

Image caption This room in Soho can be seen through the glass door Many office workers dream of jumping back into the shoes of their boss for a more relaxed time at the office….

Your boss is sitting next to you...

Image caption This room in Soho can be seen through the glass door

Many office workers dream of jumping back into the shoes of their boss for a more relaxed time at the office.

But with so many people wanting to work from home and drop in as needed – and so few workers feeling willing to make the transition from work to home – what exactly do boss and staff get up to in the lull between their crucial waking hours?

The BBC explored this issue in an experiment, naming and shaming the “boss room”.

All work and no play

Image copyright Claire Clifford for BBC

“Here we have our boss room, where we go to have a snooze and plug in and read a book, or catch up on work or just chill out, because we know the boss is always a few minutes away.”

Damion Newman works at Soho House in London, and in this quiet corner of the office to the left of the fridge, you can hear the crinkling of paper bags and the tickling of toes. He says he does work there but sees a lot of others spend the day at home.

“There are a lot of people, especially in this area of town, who have entire offices not just in their house, but their loft and their basement. They are like computer geeks.”

When the window’s open, he feels like he’s not alone.

“We have this large table which is called the ‘boss table’ and people pull out everything that they have been working on and say ‘Will you take this over here?’. It can get a bit chaotic. But it is a lovely view to be in your own company.”

Soho House CEO Nick Jones thinks many of his staff work from home. However, he says sometimes staff do park it for a while to catch up with work. He believes it is important to give those who work remotely more of a support network in the office to help them get through their breaks.

Some bosses clearly don’t approve.

“You can’t be comfortable sitting here where you can’t go upstairs and talk to your manager.”

What really matters

Image copyright Debbie Robinson / Alamy Stock Photo Image caption A lot of people earn very little

“I worked in travel for an airline. After about a month I realised that the control room for my airline would be hours away. I’d rather be by myself than lose control of it.”

Edina McMillan is assistant to Zara Miranda, manager of temporary jobs company Avalon, and she too has little trouble getting away from it all.

“Not at all,” she says. “Avalon is very flexible. I’ve been away for six weeks now and the hospitality industry is very flexible with their expectations, and we welcome people who are flexible about their hours.”

Image copyright Claire Clifford for BBC

She’s only been away from work a short time, but it’s clear Edina is keen to bring that flexibility into the building.

“I’m very active socially and have a couple of friends in the house. We go to the village to meet them. Being socially active is important to me. I’ve also read a lot, so I’m reading right now. I’d happily take another two hours tomorrow morning.”

Edina says the idea of the boss room is, ultimately, about productivity.

“I think that people do like to be motivated when they are working, but I think the truth is that it’s very hard to get a good working day. Really, it’s an equal opportunity to have a good or bad working day.”

Staff without office politics

John O’Connell, who works at a financial services company, says there is a bit of grumbling among colleagues about the bosses’ decision to open a room and designate it as a “boss room”.

“There’s a bit of bemoaning about people who are trying to meet people who are really near and dear to their heart. But generally, the people I’ve spoken to think it’s a good idea. Most people who’ve stayed in their jobs for a long time don’t have that much to complain about.”

Image copyright Claire Clifford for BBC

He describes himself as ‘bold and crass’, so he thinks it’s okay to admit that he has the sofa and a TV in his room.

“The experience of having a boss room in the office can be very different from what you expect. Sometimes, it’s a bit like visiting a hotel. Sometimes, you can feel a bit uncomfortable – you know when it’s time to enjoy yourself.

“But it’s a great place to snooze, have a cup of tea or not be chained to your computer. I might not know my colleague over the coffee table, but I can work away

Leave a Comment