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I recently accepted a new position as a software engineer at a large company. Everything has been going great so far except for one thing, they haven’t given me a desk yet. Every day I come in and check to see if anyone is out of the office, if they are I sit at their desk for the day and work there, otherwise I sit at a table about the size of a 4 person restaurant table and work with 3 other people. Those are the only seats available, every other seat nearby is taken.

This is a problem for me on multiple levels, firstly I work better with 2 monitors, having more screen real estate helps me to program better especially if I have to consult documentation while I’m coding. Secondly using a laptop all day in what is effectively a dining room chair (when I’m at the 4 person table) is fairly uncomfortable on my neck and wrists.

I’ve talked with my manager about it and he has assured me that I will be getting a desk “soon”, but it has been multiple months already and nothing has come of it.

I have never worked at a place in the past where employees weren’t given assigned desks in the past so I can say that I didn’t think to ask about it in the interview, but they didn’t mention that I wouldn’t have an assigned workstation either.

Am I overreacting to this and need to suck it up? If not, how can I best convince my manager to do whatever is necessary to get me an assigned seat?

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    @Nazein I've been working close to 3 months now. This is a fortune 100 company, so I don't know actually! But I did confirm that every desk in my immediate area is filled by some other employee. – Deskless Mar 27 at 3:32
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    Are you still on probationary period? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 27 at 7:14
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    Who are these other 3 people? Do they not have desks of their own either? How long have they been with the company? – David K Mar 27 at 12:06
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    @DavidK One is a contractor the other 2 work on other teams, I have not asked them why they don't have desks. I'm an introvert so I am mostly working with my headphones on all day. – Deskless Mar 27 at 14:17
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    "Lack of office space" makes a big difference. 3 months is a long time to buy a desk, but a short time relative to resolving growth exceeding office space. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 27 at 14:37
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3 months without a desk and work space of your own? This is not a good sign.

If it were me, I'd be looking for another job. After 3 months I see no legitimate reason they could have for not providing you the "tools" and space to do your job. In my opinion, their actions show a lack of "valuing" their employees, which doesn't bode well for your future prospects there.

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    I would have left after a week without a desk. The dual monitors is a luxury which you might not get but your own workspace is something else entirely. Even if it was a temporary, a shared table (unless the entire workspace is like that), isn’t acceptable – Ramhound Mar 27 at 11:51
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    In my current company I worked off of a table in conference room for 3 months. The just recently set up cubicles and I have a space of my own. The company is in a state of rapid growth and that's just how it had to be. – Keith Mar 27 at 12:31
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    @Ramhound I'd argue dual monitors for software developers is a necessity. Or to put it otherwise, yes you can not give them to me but you're not getting everything you're paying for then (you could be getting more on the same salary) – Magisch Mar 27 at 14:01
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    How does this answer the question "how can I best convince my manager"? Also see workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1692/… – Chris Mar 27 at 17:29
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    It doesn't. There's no convincing to be done. The OP has asked repeatedly and gotten no results. It's clear that providing adequate tools and work space isn't a priority and tells me that the company doesn't value it's employees. – joeqwerty Mar 27 at 18:28
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Someone that I work with had been at the company for a whole year without being assigned a desk. Our organisation opts for hot desking however many developers have fixed desks. This employee developed injuries and health problems due to the ergonomics of the workplace and he was able to claim some money off the company. Straight after this claim was made the organisation was sure to grant this employee the correct tools for working within a week.

Asking your boss is pointless. They can tell you as many times as you're willing to hear that you will get a desk soon. In reality he probably hasn't even started the arrangement.

You must take it higher up. Most options covered by SolarFlare in their answer here.

After this has been done, you have two options

  1. You propose working from home, until the company gives you a desk and equipment. If not then you state you cannot work until you have been given the correct equipment, otherwise your pain and problems are only going to get worse.

  2. You find a new job. I fully recommend this. No matter who the company is, fortune 100 or not, you are going to have problems much larger than this as your time goes on. They clearly have no respect for employees and no time to organise something as simple as a desk in order to improve productivity and avoid injuries. Along with this it's clear that if there is a health and safety officer, they're not doing their job very well. Clearly this problem should have been sorted a long time ago, not only with you but with others in the company if you share with 3 others on a dinner table.

  • "Find a new job" should be the last resort. If you do it too frequently your resume will flag you as a job-hopper which is a red flag to many. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 28 at 11:49
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If it is a large company you have three options:

  1. Complain to your workplace health and safety officer about the ergonomics about your desk situation. Be prepared to have problems with your boss if you do this.
  2. Try to talk to your boss again and again, tell him you're worried about having back problems or something along those lines. This way you hopefully get what you want and no one ends up with a sore back or
  3. Find another job

It is obviously unprofessional that they are treating you this way.

Is this the norm for all new people or is the office at capacity? Consider these in your decision.

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    Maybe you could answer item 4."Offer them to work from home until they can offer a healthier work environment" – Arsak Mar 27 at 5:38
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You're not overreacting, the situation is very unprofessional and it's damaging your health. I only experienced such a situation once, where temporary contractors were seated like this.

Talk to your boss again

Tell your boss that this situation is unacceptable. Ask how it will be fixed and when it will be fixed. If he cannot get a desk, he should find an alternative. Do not fear about your job, either he is reasonable and comes up with a plan or you do not want to work for him anyway.

Try to solve it yourself

Also ask your boss about what is the problem. Suggest to proactively pushing the demand. Call the responsible department regularly, ask for a timeline and updates. Make them prioritize your request.

Expand your search area

If there are no free seats in your teams' office, check if other teams have free desks. Also look for meeting rooms. (If you find a place in another team, ask them about open job offerings.)

Take more breaks

Workplace Security suggest to take more breaks if your environment is not optimal and cannot be changed. Use the opportunity to look into other parts of the building for seating opportunities.

Home Office

As the situation is unacceptable there is no reason to decline a request for working from home. Of course you should only bring that up, if you have a good working environment at home. You could also ask others to do the same, so that there are free desk if you really need to go to the office on some days.

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    +1 for offering ways to try and fix the problem yourself. If your boss won't (or doesn't have the time to) make this happen for you, then you can try to do it yourself. – David K Mar 27 at 12:09
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Gently nag your boss about it each week, until you get down to what is actually happening. At the very least your boss should let you in on why you don't have a desk yet.

But I wouldn't put too much faith in things moving quickly. You're not alone sitting at a dining table, so it could be that there's some major logistics screw-up, or that they do this as a matter of course. Either way the employees who arrived earlier than you would likely get a desk before you do.

If you can, working from home might be a temporary option that's worth looking into.

But frankly, in your shoes I'd just explore other job options unless the job you're in is really awesome. If you've been there for three months only, you probably have a few other offers that are still warm.

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Management could be having a problem with the procurement of additional furniture, as you actually share a table with three other people. You never really know what's going on in your company's purchasing department. But your supervisor should at least have the grace of telling you that--"Oh I forwarded it to purchasing and I hadn't heard from them at all," etc.

I still don't yet see the need to confront them why they won't give you a desk of your own, not now at least. Thus the best way I see to convince your manager to get you one is to point out the health reasons why you need one (i.e., your neck and your wrists are getting uncomfortable).

But considering the financial angle, you might want to request for just an office chair--in the meantime. That way you can suggest something that saves the management some money while doing your back some favors.

You're not overreacting. You're looking out for your own health and performance at work and that's okay.

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    I still don't yet see the need to confront them why they won't give you a desk of your own - After 3 months? There's no valid reason for this. – joeqwerty Mar 27 at 3:59
  • I agree, even a month would be pushing it. – JustSaying Mar 27 at 7:22
  • After a week I would have started to push it – Ramhound Mar 27 at 11:53
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Next time you come in and there are no free desks, tell them you are unable to work under the conditions you have been given. Clearly state to them that you will not being doing any work until they find a solution.

Their options are now: find you a comfortable place to work, or fire you. Which do you think is easier for them - finding you a desk or finding themselves another employee?

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    Taking an adversarial position is never helpful. If you're going to quit, then quit. Making demands isn't going to get you a desk. – joeqwerty Mar 27 at 12:48
  • Dependant on the local legal requirements to health and safety this may be the simplest and most effective route. Certainly in the UK the health and safety at work act places the onus on the employee to work in a safe manner, this includes simple things like a ergonomically set up workstation. – RappaportXXX Mar 27 at 18:53

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