A High Status Workspace is Not Usually Given to a Consultant

High Status workspace
Where you sit often shows your status in the organization

We see evidence of status all over the work place.  The boss in the corner office; larger, more comfortable chairs for management; and cubicles by the window for people with more seniority.

There are companies who try to remove the haughty symbols of status in attempts to make everyone equal.  I heard of a company once who, when redesigning their office space, made all of the offices the same size.  That way, the CEO and the low-level manager had the same sized office.  No status there.  Except that the higher someone’s level in the company, the larger his or her office plant was.

The high status workspace seems to be the most visible status symbols in most offices.  Some companies have policies regarding seating arrangements.  Based on one’s level, there is a specified number of square feet the executive’s office should be.

At lower levels, seniority determines how close you sit to a window or whether you have a corner cubicle.

The Bottom Rung

At the bottom rung of this status ladder is the consultant. When the client arranges the seating for a new project when consultants arrive on site, they are usually relegated to a small conference room or some other less-desirable work space.  I’ve worked at tables along a busy hallway and even by a paper sorter that was used regularly throughout the day.

Often times, the entire team is assigned to a team room.  This includes our consulting team, third-party consultants and employees of the client.  The client employees have the hardest time with this.  They have to move from their comfy cubicle with the pictures of their family, into the stuffy conference room with the consultants.

This should not be an issue for consultants.  Consultants should go into a client site expecting to have second-class status, at least when it comes to where you sit.  A consultant is sometimes given her own cubicle, but it’s more the exception rather than the rule.

See my related post: The Consultant’s Commute

No consultant should go to a client site expecting preferred status when it comes to their workspace.  Consultants should be able to work productively as long as they are given a flat surface to set their laptop, a power source, and network access.

Any consultant who enters a client’s doors with expectations of treatment equal to that of the employees, should be given an “expectation management meeting” with their superior.

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com 

Related Posts
Management Flexibility: That’s Not How I’d Do It
There is an age-old debate about how the toilet paper should roll for most efficient dispensing.  One school of thought says the paper should roll up from the bottom while ...
READ MORE
Critical Consulting Skill: Flexibility
As I’ve pointed out in this blog before, one of the things I’ve always liked about consulting is the variety.  You generally work on a project for a few months ...
READ MORE
Consulting: Embracing the Change
We often hear that the only thing that stays constant is change.  But if that’s so, why are people so averse to change?  Just listen to the nervous gossip that ...
READ MORE
The Jimmy Buffett Approach to Career Management
For those old enough to remember Jimmy Buffett, but are unfamiliar with him, most would probably think he’s a washed up musician from the 70s who should probably be making ...
READ MORE
The Difficult Client Types
I've worked in very few organizations that didn’t have a jerk or two walking around.  Over the years I’ve learned to deal with them. In the one situation where the jerk was ...
READ MORE
Reluctant Clients: Gaining Buy In
"We're from corporate and we're here to help." It's the common joke for anyone who works for a living; for anyone who feels they know their job and doesn't need high ...
READ MORE
Consulting’s Three Headed Monster
A good consulting firm needs to be successful from three aspects: Delivery, Sales and Recruiting.  This is often considered the three-headed monster of consulting The three headed monster Delivery Delivery, the act of ...
READ MORE
How To Overcome Your Fear
Many people have an irrational fear lurking deep within them that limits their ability succeed.  Whether it’s fear of public speaking, confrontation or the ability to ask for the sale, ...
READ MORE
The Impossible Goal of Multitasking
I have a “no electronics” rule at our dinner table with my kids.  We turn off the TV, we don’t answer the phone and, above all, no cell phones.  Any ...
READ MORE
The Thick Skin of a Consultant
Suppose you hire a local landscaping firm to care for your lawn.  During a backyard party, if a guest comments that your bushes are overgrown and the grass is cut ...
READ MORE
Management Flexibility: That’s Not How I’d Do It
Critical Consulting Skill: Flexibility
Consulting: Embracing the Change
The Jimmy Buffett Approach to Career Management
The Difficult Client Types
Reluctant Clients: Gaining Buy In
Consulting’s Three Headed Monster
How To Overcome Your Fear
The Impossible Goal of Multitasking
The Thick Skin of a Consultant