This is a post by Anna Hicks.
When your grandparents got their first office jobs, they were often taken to private office spaces with their names on the door. When your parents got their first office jobs, they were probably escorted to a personal cubicle with high, fabric-covered walls.
When you get your first office job -- which is more than likely to be an office internship -- you may not even have your own desk at all. You may be asked to hotdesk, or to practice "hotelling" in an open plan office space. You may not even be provided with a computer on which to do your work; your supervisor may instead tell you to "BYOD."
What do these new terms mean, and how do they affect your internship?
Approximately 70% of American workers get their jobs done in what is called an "open-plan office." Instead of the typical maze-like warren of cubicles, the office space is left open and visible to everyone. Each worker gets a desk, but there are no dividing walls placed between the desks. You can see your neighbors as you work, and everyone can see you.
The biggest open-plan office secret? Invest in a pair of good noise-canceling headphones, to block out coworker noise when you really have to get a job done. Also, because you are always visible; avoid slouching, making messes, eating sloppy food, or any other activity that might detract from your professionalism -- and prevent you from turning your internship into a good recommendation or a full-time job.
Office space is expensive, so employers are doing everything they can to fit staff and interns into often limited space. Office furniture designer Interior Concepts, for example, designs work spaces with a 1-inch panel between desks, to help businesses seat the maximum possible number of employees.
Even with desks placed only an inch apart, sometimes there isn't enough space. That's why many businesses employ hotdesking, or assigning a desk to two or more staff members with different work schedules. Hotdesking is popular with interns, since many students have class schedules that keep them out of the office on certain days. If you are hotdesking, do your part to keep your shared desk space clean and ready for its other occupant.
Hotelling is similar to hotdesking, but the difference is that no worker is ever assigned to any specific desk. Instead, you arrive in the office, "check in" to an empty desk, and begin to work. This is another popular intern space solution, since it allows businesses to invest in many interns without having to provide a desk for each intern.
If your office asks you to hotel, follow the same rules as you would for hotdesking: always be neat and tidy, and leave your desk clean and ready for the next intern.
How can you show up to the office every day without a designated desk or computer? Well, in the case of computers, you can just bring your own. More and more workspaces are asking staff to BYOD, or "bring your own devices," letting workers use their own laptops, smartphones, and other electronic devices to get the job done.
If you are asked to BYOD, understand that you are working in an office that both values technology and understands that its interns are responsible enough to manage their own electronic devices. Overall, it's a win-win.
It's also an example of the changing face of the American workplace -- an office where staff members are required to bring their own supplies, share desks, work in highly visible open-plan offices, and still manage to be as productive and creative as ever. As an intern, the faster you learn how to adapt to these new office policies, the faster your career will rise, and the sooner you'll finally get an office of your own -- with your name on the door.