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Board in the house

Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine
Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine

19 May 2020 Martin Read

The placing of life-sized cardboard avatars of Borussia Mönchengladbach fans in the seats at the club’s stadium is surely an inspired idea. In all of this pandemic-infused oddness, surely it’s the kind of thing that could gain traction in the workplace too? asks Martin Read


Not random, empty brown cardboard cut-outs, mark you – but actual photographic representations of those we know and interact with.


If we are indeed to be obliged to work one or more workstations apart from our absent colleagues when and if we return to the office, wouldn’t the placing of pictures of our colleagues “at their desks” in the remaining empty seats serve as a powerful physical reminder that we and they are all still ‘here’ in a business sense? Part of the firm, part of working life; the ‘company’ we work with that makes up the company we work for?


This speaks to one of the areas of office life that seem to pass people by when they debate the very future of offices (something happening every other minute at the moment).


It is surely the combination of all of our colleagues that comprises the collective character of the organisations we work for? The nerdy ones, the sparky ones, the larger-than-life sales ones; those we really like, those we’re not sure of, those who support Harrow Borough.


Every firm has a unique physical existence that transcends the physical building housing it. Whether carefully cultivated or haphazardly settled on, it’s a social DNA that, sure, can exist to an extent on Zoom, Teams and Hangouts – but always has its genesis in the physical rather than the digital world of work.


So come on, why not let’s see rows of cardboard you’s and me’s where otherwise sad empty chairs would sit? And no, of course, it’s no long-term solution. If anything, I guess it could perhaps lead to a teensy upwards tick in the fire hazard chart. But it would surely bring a smile to the faces of those who’ve made it in by dodging all those buses and trains. And it would surely allow for the valuable recognition that we – whichever we you belong to – are (Covid cliché alert!) All In This Together.


Martin Read is editor of Facilitate Magazine