June 25th, 2015 was supposed to be like any other day.
A nice warm morning in Chicago sure had me entering the space like any of the other hundreds of days – blasting Taylor Swift and fist-pumping while checking out my reflection in the beautifully reflective elevator doors. A thousand tasks running through my mind of people that needed to be onboarded or offboarded, supplies that needed ordered, and people that needed high-fiving.
I had no idea that I had accidentally locked my work laptop (my soul) in a filing cabinet the night before, and my single, solitary key was sitting on a key-chain on its merry way to Georgia (another blog for another time)!
It’s no huge epiphany to think that we, as modern, air-breathing humans, are slaves to our electronics. I mean, as I write this on the aforementioned MacBook Air, my cell phone is lit up blue with an urgent text message that needs handling, the AppleTV is blaring something about the upcoming election, and even the coffee pot is beeping to let me know that I can run over and drink from the fountain of youth. It’s all one big, beautiful balance we maintain with our electronic stuff.
So what do you do when you go to open your trusty filing cabinet and realize your mistake? Well, first you call your wife and have her overnight you the keys from The Peach State. Then, you have the best day of work you can possibly imagine (and you panic…a lot).
Once I discovered my mistake, I did what anyone in my position would do.
I whipped out my phone and YouTubed “household lock-picks.” After trying a few, I resigned myself to my fate and got a to-do list going, which mostly consisted of things I knew were probably done the night before by the cleaning crew. But hey, if I get yearly reviews as an employee, shouldn’t my cleaning crew get one as a contractor? So it began! I answered the few pressing emails about tours from my phone, and then grabbed a broom.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to find much, but pressed on regardless. Now, if you've ever hand swept 4500 square feet, which is populated with about 30 people at the time, then you know it requires some acrobatics and moving people around. The vast majorities of the members were totally cool about this, and eagerly helped me move a desk out of the way, while telling me about their mornings.
Broom folk become social folk.
I learned so much about the people I was working around that it was insane. Hobbies, education, stories from college, thoughts about the space. It all came to light. The other thing that came to light? A lot of dirt, like literal dirt. More dirt than should be on the floors of a social space that pays a lot of money to a cleaning crew. After hanging up my broomstick for the day, I checked a few other nightly cleaning tasks and realized that they just weren’t done. Now, this is no way meant as an attack of my former cleaning crew – they are super nice people, and possibly they had an off night.
But I did replace them that day. Ironically, the new cleaning crew called offering to do a free deep clean. Any other day, that offer would have been met with a “yeah, cool, I’ll call you later this week”. Not today. That call was met with a “you free tonight?!” Satisfied with my cleaning upheaval, I had lunch with a bunch of the members that I had previously displaced. Turns out, when you aren’t nosily buried in your laptop for 50 hours a week, you’ll notice some amazing things happening around you!
As the day went on, I spent more time with more members, wiped down every square inch of this place, hired that other cleaning crew, which has now been doing great work for a year – OfficeLuv, look them up! – and gave the best tours of my life. Hey, I had a lot of time on my hands, and could afford to chat and listen with the casual elegance of a mega-buff James Bond.
Now, I’m not telling you that you need to lock your laptop away for 8 or 9 hours at a time to go all Cinderella on your floors. What I am saying is that I suddenly realized how complacent I had become with so many of the day-to-day things that I had taken for granted. This day shaped me more as a space manager than a year of giving tours, and helped me to realize the importance of just taking a step back from time-to-time and making sure that people are happy. Go beyond the conversations of, “how you doin’? Good? Yeah, some great weather. Lotsa work, ya know? Peace.”
And, for Pete’s sake, know what your cleaning crew is up to!