As more and more companies adopt the mobile or “free range” office, some companies are banding together in an effort to slow its spread. The mobile office, the practice of no longer assigning seats, has caught the attention of a diverse group of suppliers, service providers, and manufacturers. Across the group, they are experiencing declining sales in regions where free range offices are more common.
“Our group is not just about the loss of sales,” said Rosa Sharon, a spokesperson for Companies Against the Mobile Office (CAMO). “Employees abhor the mobile office, as workers like to know where they are sitting on a daily basis.”
She gives the example of an employee who goes to her daughter’s school play and arrives later-than-normal at the office to find the only available desk faces the men’s room door.
“Do you think she is happy about that?” asks Sharon.
The groundswell against the mobile office started oddly enough with paper clips. Steven Anthony, an office stationer in Ohio, noticed a drop in paper clip orders from this biggest customer. When he visited the office, he discovered his customer went to a mobile environment.
“With no desk drawers, people no longer horde paper clips,” said Anthony. He estimates that his customer has collected an 89-year surplus while converting the previous furniture to their mobile, free range layout.
“We are killing our steel mills, first with shorter desks that use less metal and then use of fewer office supplies,” Anthony bemoans.
Another company beset by the mobile office is Sawyer Vending. Without desk drawers, people stopped keeping tea bags, creamers, Sweet & Low packets, and other break room staples at their desks.
“At first I thought it was the weather but the decline in sales continued through a cold winter,” said Kendall Jeffery at Sawyer Vending, “I just wish people would go back to stealing it like they used to do.”
No industry seems to be harder hit than desktop tchotchke manufacturers. Without a dedicated desk, where will people keep their desktop dartboard, paper football goal posts, or Zen gardens?
“No one is purchasing our pocket pool set,” states Stube Frowin of Ocaibus Industries. “Three years of R&D down the drain.”
Year-over-year sales at Ocaibus really declined in December. Frowin blames the mobile office: “You could count on people to purchase these items for white elephant exchanges or last minute gift purchases for the coworkers you really do not care about. Now, people are getting Starbucks gift cards or something people might actually want.”
CAMO’s Sharon also points out the increase in illnesses as a result of the open office.
“Think about all the germs spread by the revolving desk,” she griped. “Even if you do bring in facial tissues and hand sanitizer, everyone else is going to use it.”
She believes that the shorter walls that have accompanied the mobile office allow viruses to run amok. “You know when someone sneezes it can travel like 121 feet?” asked Sharon. “It is bad enough you got some creepy guy always sitting by you, now you got to endure his germs.”
In high mobile office populations, the downward trend continues. Pest control companies received less calls about roaches and ants. Fake candles sales are declining.
“Where are they going to keep their oatmeal packets?” asked Sharon. “The butterfly effect from people’s inability to store crap at their desk is amazing. Plummeting sales of desktop fish tanks cubes, chia pets, and butterfly pencil holders ain’t no coincidence.”
Note: The author of this Funny Friday, Charles C. Carpenter, CFM, suggests that this entire story be filed under “April Fools’” and hopes this is the worst prank you experience this April Fools’ Day!