Well, An awkward situation at work. We moved into a new office, and I was lucky enough to get a window seat . The first day, the manager just told us to pick our own seats. So I went ahead found a seat I liked most.

Here's the issue. A more senior colleague showed up to the new office a bit later(work-related traveling ). He has pretty much sent the message that he wants my seat.

My senior colleague has around 7 years work experience. I have 2 years work experience.

My manager seems to have some beef with him. Probably due to the fact that my senior colleague is the most "managerial" of the rest of us "entry-level folk." And has a few times made managerial-type decisions. Also, the manager once sent an email out to all of us, which subtly made fun of him (appended "lol" to a simple informational message directed to him).

So the relationship between my manager and senior colleague is more "competitive" than the rest of us.

Would it be better to give up my window seat to him? Or hold on ?

There happen to be other OK seats available, but clearly mine is the 5-stars seat(all relative of course)

  • 8
    Play dead, like it isn't a big deal. Don't make it a big deal and it won't become one. Few perks are as good as a good seat at the office.
    – user1220
    May 14, 2015 at 2:23
  • 3
    How much more senior? 3 months? 10 years? Does this person have a more senior title or position, or simply has been at your company longer? Also, do you, or will you in the future, report to this person?
    – ExactaBox
    May 14, 2015 at 2:32
  • 11
    I think when the manager says something like "go pick" - he's really saying, I'm not getting involved, team go figure it out. It seems very contextual depending on people's mood. Some people are a lot about seating, and it sounds like your colleague is one of those people. I don't think you can appeal to "the boss said so" in this case. Although technically true, it's a fast way to get your colleague to hold a grudge.
    – Bowen
    May 14, 2015 at 2:35
  • 3
    When your team picked seats to begin with, was there an order to the process? Did people pick in order of seniority? If not, then he can go pound sand. But if so, you might want to consider giving it up.
    – jmorc
    May 15, 2015 at 15:10
  • 7
    @Adel please follow up -- did you keep the seat? volunteer to give it up? get kicked out of it by the manager? how is your relationship with the senior colleague?
    – ExactaBox
    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:12

8 Answers 8


You are in a bad spot.

Some people are very particular about what they want in their office environment. I, for instance, want sunlight. I don't care about a private office, noise, or how many stairs I have to climb, but I need to be able to see the sun.

Your colleague got completely bashed by your manager, and he's mad. Given that he was last in the choice line because of business travel, he's right to be mad. He should be mad at his manager, but he's going to be mad at you. It's not right, but it's what's going to happen.

I would approach him, say that you completely understand that he's upset, but you're not going to be put in a dark corner, either. Then the two of you should go to our manager and work it out.

There is no way to "Win" in this for you. You were first, and he was last because he never had a chance due to his travel. If you offer the olive branch now, you've got a good chance of gaining a good and valuable friend.

  • 1
    "you're not going to be put in a dark corner, either." OP states very clearly there are other decent, if not perfect, seats. He could easily offer up the window seat without suffering tremendously.
    – ExactaBox
    May 14, 2015 at 3:49
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    @Exactabox The argument that there are other, if not perfect, seats - that argument cuts both ways. May 14, 2015 at 11:21
  • 7
    Sorry I disagree. Management messed it up, management should get it resolved.
    – user1220
    May 14, 2015 at 14:17
  • I think the last time I was able to "buy a friend" as you are suggesting was around 5th grade. At best, giving up the spot is going to not make the other person hold a grudge against you.
    – Dunk
    May 15, 2015 at 19:51
  • 4
    @WesleyLong what criteria are you basing your judgment of merit on? I once got a great seat over someone more senior because the company valued me more.
    – Andy
    May 16, 2015 at 23:57

There seems to be quite a bit of wishful thinking going on in some of these answers and comments. The (corporate) world doesn't work the way it should, it works the way it works.

Having recently managed several team and floor relocations for around 200 people, introducing hot-desking to several teams at the same time, I came to learn two things:

  • People get very precious about their seating arrangements - Personally I don't, so this came as quite a surprise to me
  • The above is always trumped by: The bosses/seniors always get the seats they want

That is the way it is. You have to live with it (any many other things) until you yourself are senior and then you get your choice of seat. No good can come of trying to appeal to some unwritten sense of fairness, chivalry or logic, you don't have what it takes to "win" because you are a junior.

If it were me, I would just think myself lucky I had a few days in the "top spot" and move to one of the other good places, with good grace. You won't get any kudos for that, it will be forgotten by tomorrow, but a graceless and unwinnable fight will be remembered forever.

  • 2
    Where people don't have a fixed allocated desk, they use any desk from a generic pool of desks. Generally the first people to arrive pick the best and the last get what is left.
    – Marv Mills
    May 14, 2015 at 15:08
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    @MarvMills, why on earth would anyone work in such an enviroment? That is even worse than the horrible open space concept. I would quit on the spot if my office went to a system like that.
    – HLGEM
    May 15, 2015 at 14:00
  • 2
    Some people like it more than others. I am not wedded to a fixed desk, it doesn't matter to me where I sit while I work, it's not my home! Others liked it less, but nonetheless it is a feature of many working environments- It saves space.
    – Marv Mills
    May 15, 2015 at 14:05
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    @HLGEM - I have seen it used in professional services firms where it makes some sense as a significant number of staff are at client sites a significant amount of the time. In other environments, it sounds horrendous and you can pretty much guarantee the management team that implements it each have their own private office. May 15, 2015 at 14:53
  • 1
    It matters more to some people than others @Dunk. A lot depends on what you actually do. If the workfoce is static and is in the office every day then such a plan brings few benefits. If the workforce is fluid and comes and goes day to day then it is an efficient use of space and energy. The choice is not between a productive and unproductive space, that would make it a really stupid system wouldn't it?! It's all productive space- just individuals don't have their individual fixed fiefdoms. YMMV so let's try not to judge eh?
    – Marv Mills
    May 15, 2015 at 21:03

If he wants your seat, he will have to push you out of it. This means that he will have to go to your manager and have your manager tell you to vacate. State that you were aboveboard and that you picked your seat according to the rule set by your manager. If your colleague mentions that he was traveling, reply that you had nothing to do with his traveling. State your readyness to move when your manager tells you to move but not one minute before.

If I were your manager, I wouldn't care for senior staff members pushing junior staff members around and I would say so to your colleague. And if I were your senior colleague, I wouldn't push you out either - that would be giving a bad example of leadership.


I think your manager is a bit of a joke in this situation. He said go pick and probably didn't figure any harm in it. But now he stands around and makes you deal with it? What a $$#)$*#!

A lot of companies have policies in place and groups in companies have policies in place around seating arrangement. At my company and a lot of financial companies it is the norm - higher positions pick first then it goes by seniority.

I am going to answer the question based on this being the norm at your workplace because it sure seems to be.

Basically it doesn't matter why this guy was out, how long he was out, or what reason he was out. If your norms are that he has dibs, than he has dibs. A good manager calls the guy and says "Which seat do you want?" I mean seriously this takes 5 minutes. At worst the manager should have just assumed that he wanted the best spot.

So take this to your manager and let him work it out. I would even go so far as to say their should be a complete reshuffle based on his incompetence (you can phrase it better). Maybe you shouldn't get the best desk by the window but you shouldn't get the worst just because you have to give up your desk.

Literally this has to be one of the easiest things for a manager to take care of. Hopefully this was just one mishap and not a complete picture of your manager.


You say he has hinted he wants your spot:

He has pretty much sent the message that he wants my seat.

This implies that neither he nor your supervisor have told you to move.

In the absence of orders to move, the question is what you hope to achieve by volunteering to move, and will moving be effective in achieving your goals, whatever they are (goodwill, peace in the office, a raise, a date, first choice of donuts)?

Basically as the situation stands, you have something, someone else wants it, and yet another party has the power to take it from you and give it to them. You haven't said what you want, decide what you want and then work towards. You may not get it, but at least you'll have identified it and tried.

  • Overall.. I like my seat, I'd rather not give it up. But we'll see what happens, he seems desperate and I'm generally more pliant than others May 15, 2015 at 2:13
  • 2
    @Adel: if you want your spot, I don't see how unilaterally deciding to give it to him will result in you keeping it. Depending upon how much the spot means to you, either stay out of it entirely, or let your manager know that you want to keep your spot. If your manager wants to tell you that seniority or the risk of lossing him as an employee is to great, that's his call. Nothing I've read indicates that there is any reason for you to give the spot up.
    – jmoreno
    May 15, 2015 at 4:24

I just wouldn't engage in the conversation with the co-worker. Your co-worker making an issue of the fact that he didn't get to choose the prime seat with you is petty and immature. If he feels he was treated unfairly because he didn't get to pick his seat, he should discuss it over with the manager. It isn't his place to strong-arm you out of something that you came by fairly. Life isn't always fair, and unfortunately it sounds like he needs a little serving of "humble pie."

Just because he is "more senior and more experienced" doesn't mean he is the most productive employee in the office. If he was the star employee, I suspect the manager would have made sure that he got his pick before everyone else did. Instead, the bidding was opened while he wasn't even there. That should tell you something. If he hints around about wanting your seat, suggest he go discuss it with the boss. I suspect he knows that it would be fruitless, and so he is instead circumventing it by trying to exert pressure on the "new guy." You said there are other desirable spots available. Great. He can take one.

Now, if he talks to the boss and the boss talks to you, I'd be gracious, not make a big deal about it, and move. It is OK to give up (or even offer up) your seat based on the boss' wishes, but I certainly wouldn't let a co-worker bully me into it. You are setting the expectation that you can be bullied for other things as well. What happens when you get a nice new monitor and he wants it? A new desk chair? A faster computer? I wouldn't extend an olive branch. I would set a boundary and let him know that, if he wants something, he needs to do what everyone else does... go to the company and ask for it. I'd just set the boundary in a polite, professional manner and let everyone know that you aren't interested in conflict.


I know exactly what I would do, besides not picking a window seat in first place. I would invest in the brownie points. I know it feels bad, but is worth it.

For reference, I currently have a window seat in a private office now. I never open blinds, am afraid of being here if a tornado comes, it gets damp in here when rains because it leaks. It is hot in summer and cold in winter.


So a guy who was out on the road actually generating business for the company lost out to an eager-beaver with nothing better to do than arrive at 7am on one particular day to beat out everybody else. This will not reflect well upon you. "Selfish" is a label that is difficult to remove, and you're only emphasizing it every day you sit there. Besides your colleagues, your boss will notice as well.

Perhaps you can save face by stating you were just joking, "keeping the seat warm" for the guy who is actually generating revenue/clients/business. But at this point, they probably won't buy it.

I suspect you already know this.

  • 2
    This goes both ways. "He was in at 7am actually doing some work for the business." "The senior (not actually that much senior) is being selfish for not accepting the situation and demanding a seat he will rarely use with all his travels generating revenue/clients/business." But I suspect you know this.
    – dave
    May 14, 2015 at 5:47
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    @dave He wasn't in at 7am to work, he was there early specifically to get the good seat. It is in his comment above. True, the senior guy is indeed being a little immature and childish himself -- but he is producing more, and was involuntarily excluded from the seat selection. The original poster would not be asking this question if he had an entirely clear conscience, which is why I wrote the final sentence (that you have misappropriated). He feels at least a tinge of guilt, because he is seeking replies that take his side, as evidenced by his comments to the replies and his upvotes.
    – ExactaBox
    May 14, 2015 at 6:20
  • 3
    I generally find at my MNC that the employees who are first in line for the free food, first to state their preferences when given choices (lunch, outings, offices), first to ask for free samples or trinkets they were promised... are the least useful ones. Just something I've noticed anecdotally. May 14, 2015 at 13:14
  • 2
    My main issue with this answer is the assumptions being made... otherwise without the more sharp language I'm generally buying May 14, 2015 at 15:27
  • 5
    @ExactaBox - Don't accuse me of stuff without proof , please May 15, 2015 at 2:13

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