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Tidiness and the Techie

By chipshopman ·
My team has a group of desktop engineers in it. Without exception, they all lack the concept of tidiness. Every day, I look at their desks and surrounding environment and dispair: Redundant desktops, old monitors, cables, unpacked boxes, towers of CDs defying gravity, stands, semi-disected laptops, a large box of keyboards... the list could go on. We have adequate storage, albeit not on our floor, and yet it continues.

This kit could so easily get stolen or just ruined by someone kicking it, dropping it or stepping on it and it's just not good practice to just leave kit lying about the place.

The team gets a regular talking to by their team leader and yet it still goes on. I moan at them, tell them to get it shifted and yet it fails to move. I don't want to resort to disciplinary procedures because that feels like overkill, but I need something to happen.

I can't be the only one to have this problem. What are people's experiences, and in particular has anyone found a way of resolving the situation in a positive manner?

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Quick and dirty method

by mjd420nova In reply to Tidiness and the Techie

I used to take photos of each techs area and post them on the door. This kind of acted as a warning to those about to enter the area that they were about to enter a war zone. This usually solved the problem, the photos were seldom up more than a day before things got cleaned up. I set up cabinets for each catagory, keyboards, MOBO's, hard drives, CD's, software, power supplies ETC. At least that way they could close the doors of the cabinet. This usually happened on a two week basis, but I was happy, as they were seldom around and it at least meant they were out working and not playing games at their desks.

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A good practice is to;

by IT-Slave In reply to Quick and dirty method

A former boss of mine made it a practice to have a place for everything and to put things back at the end of the day. He made it a ritual and generally made it a ritual for everyone. I know, I know when a server starts having problems that all is thrown to the wayside, but it only takes 5 minutes at the end of the day to clean everything up. It also gets you in the habit of putting things back while you use them, that way you can get out of the office at the end of the day if you have nothing to put back.

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Ours is every Friday

by zaferus In reply to A good practice is to;

For the weekend out work space must be completely clean. The good part of this is that if you are in the middle of an install during the week you can leave things out and about but in a week things don't tend to get too messy before you tidy up again.

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by bitboss In reply to Ours is every Friday

1. Constantly remind the techs that their workshop represents a health hazard. When that fails (as it will) plant some rats (really big ones) in the workshop.
2. Post an email informing techs that on every Friday all unsecured equipment will be dumped by the maintenance crew - techies can't stand throwing anything remotely electronic away.
3. At the monthly staff get together - sacrifice a techie to the tidiness god over an open cooking pit and inform remaining techs that they must consume their former colleague to appease the wrath of the tidiness god (they're an incredibly gullible lot - just look at Microsoft products).

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by Tink! In reply to Tidiness and the Techie

I don't have a team working for me...therefore I AM the culprit around here. :)

You may need to actually go in and help them organize for the first time...take charge and create labeled boxes, shelves, cabinets, drawers or whatever is needed to get the stuff put away, and then setup a process like mjd's photos :) to keep it in order.

I find that once you have set destinations for things, it's much easier to keep things cleaned up. It's getting that first organization done that's the hardest.


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Aahh, but then

by w2ktechman In reply to Organization

after everything gets tidied up, something new comes along, and then something else, and again...
where to put everything???

Personally I do cleanup often. Although my desk cannot be confused with anything but IT, it is sometimes cleaned up, for a few days at least...

I have a storage room, and I even clean that out once in a while, and re-org, etc.
But I have a problem trying to keep up. I mean right now I have a pile of 3 different types of docking stations. All still in use models, and 2 weeks ago it was only 2 types. Now I have to also deal with IPAQ's and Blackberries, as 2 months ago, I didnt.
finding places for things only works for short term. I mean if I only had certain types of HW around, that would be one thing, but most IT departments support a variety of things.

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Make sure you provide the tools

by solotech1 In reply to Aahh, but then

I too am alone in the world of IT at my company. I am the sole IT person for a business that has multiple office locations across the state so you can imagine what my office looks like. Anything that comes under the title "equipment" is under my responsibility. It is definitely difficult at times to stay on top of it all with the limited time I have and so much to support, and as of yet I have not been given authority to purchase additional storage units despite asking for them several times over the last year.

My two biggest suggestions to managers and supervisors of IT teams that need "cleaning up" would be as follows:

1. Make sure your team has adequate storage for items in appropriate places.

2. Make sure you allow time for them to clean up during their busy schedule.

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Tidy?!?!? What's that?

by oldbag In reply to Tidiness and the Techie

I am the culprit here!

My intentions are always good but I never seem to be able to catch up.

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Institute Routine

by addicted2speed In reply to Tidy?!?!? What's that?

Unless you have a very rare Techie employee, my experience has been that dedicated techies are often more-focused on getting things done than keeping their work area clean.

My solution was to make it a Friday routine to leave the labs and work areas tidy. Basically once their areas were clear, the departments were "cleared" to leave.

Also, instead of singling out individuals, leverage the power of peer pressure, where if one technician had a messy station, then everyone stayed (including myself) to help clean up.

Of course there are clear exceptions to this, like when there is an on-going deployment or testing, or something of that nature. The work always came first... cleanliness was a secondary priority.

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The key here...

by Inkling In reply to Institute Routine

is that you would stay and clean with them.

I started my IT career in the Marine Corps, where cleanliness = Godliness.

Bottom line is, if you aren't willing to inconvenience YOURSELF to get things done, your team most certainly won't be bothered to inconvenience themselves.

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