Mirrors and the Office

mirrors at officeAre mirrors too girly to have in your office? Which mirrors are best for the office? Reader A wonders…

I am six-months into my first post-school job and am (as per your advice) slowly decorating my office. I’d really like to have a mirror in my office to check my makeup before meetings, etc. But, I don’t want to look vain.

I work for the state and have what can only be describer as a cube-pretending-to-be-an-office (a large cube with a door). Any tips on mirrors that are decorative but not over the top, and won’t break the bank?

Fabulous question, Reader A! We’ve talked about the mirror trick for interviews, how to liven up your office walls, and how to bring furniture into the office, but we haven’t specifically talked about mirrors in the office.  I’m curious to hear what the readers say here, because I have one very specific experience that has completely set my thinking on this issue. Here’s the story: when I was a very new first-year associate, I went to the office of a male associate a few years older than me to get an assignment. We closed the door at some point and, as I went to leave his office, I realized with some shock that he had a full-length mirror propped up behind his door, just leaning against the wall. (I suppose it was “with some shock” because this particular associate was such a guy’s guy, and I would have been so worried that a mirror would make me appear too girly that I never even considered one for my burgeoning office.) THIS IS BRILLIANT, I thought — he could check for wardrobe malfunctions (or, ahem, barn door issues), check for spinach in his teeth, etc. I bought a $10 mirror at Bed Bath & Beyond the next weekend, and never looked back. (And that male associate went on to great things, so his career was in no way limited by his mirror.  Instead, perhaps his career was aided by the lack of spinach in his teeth.) [Read more...]

Coffee Break: Sweet Pea File Folders

Container Store Sweet Pea File FoldersI’m always a fan of colorful, happy folders — maybe not for submitting things to your supervisor, but they’re great for your own purposes. These navy/yellow/pink folders from The Container Store pretty much ring all of my bells — and they’re only $5.99 for a pack of six. Hooray! Container Store Sweet Pea File Folders

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Professional-Looking Padfolios

Professional Padfolios | CorporetteWhere can you get a great padfolio for the office?  Reader N wonders about a decent padfolio..

I have been searching for a decent padfolio for what feels like ages. It seems like everything out there is clunky and overly masculine. Where can I find a professional, but feminine or at least sophisticated padfolio? Help!

I remember hunting for something similar a few years ago.  I wanted: something zippable and expandable, something that could hold my Blackberry (ah, the late 2000s) if I didn’t have pockets or a belt and suddenly needed to carry a box (or 3) back to my office.  I also wanted something that I could keep “packed” with a notepad, pen/pencil/highlighter, lip gloss, hand cream, business cards, tape flags, and post-it notes and just grab and go.  Also key: I wanted something that looked nicer than a redweld or a Trapper Keeper.  I finally found it at Office Max or Staples, but I remember having to hunt for a while.  If I were looking today, these were the ones that I would choose (below).  Readers, do you use a padfolio at the office?  Whether you’re running to a quick meeting or working away from your office (e.g., in a conference room) all day, what do you grab with you to go? [Read more...]

Healthy Snacks for the Office

Healthy Snacks for the Office | CorporetteWe’ve talked about healthy snacks to keep at the office before, but since it is the season for healthy eating resolutions, I thought now might be a great time to talk again about what your favorite snacks are — what do you bring with you? What do you keep at the office?

When I was working in Big Law I kept a banker’s box on the window stuffed full of a variety of snacks — when I was packing my office to switch jobs, a supervisor came into the office and I offered her some, since I was just throwing away a lot of them — we’d worked closely together for four years and she couldn’t get over how she’d always just thought it was a box of docs, like all the other boxes in our offices…  In those days I ate far too many 100-calorie Nabisco treats, but these days, I’m a big fan of: [Read more...]

How to Decorate Your Desk

How to Decorate Your Desk | CorporetteHow do YOU like to decorate your desk?  Where is the line between “plain vanilla robot” and “crazed Cathy fan”?

You covered desk essentials recently, but what I’ve really been wondering is: How do you “decorate” a desk? Where do you draw the line between professional and tacky?

I’m a young (25) legal professional working in a very casual environment where most of the other people in the building are not lawyers. Most of these other people are women who are fairly close to retirement age, so their desks are…. well, tacky. Think small animals holding signs with “witty sayings” and billions of pictures of grandchildren. At the moment, I only have some nice letter holders and a pretty inbox on my desk. I’d like my desk to look professional, but I have no idea what a professional desk has on it!

We’ve talked about how to personalize an office before, as well as liven up your office walls, as well as how to choose your own office furniture, but not in a while, so I’m curious.  For my $.02, my desk/office space (even in BigLaw) has always included these things: [Read more...]

How to Set Up a Mobile Office

How to Deal with Hot Desking | CorporetteWhat do you do if you don’t have a specific desk or workspace every day, and instead have to carry everything you need for work with you? How do you set up a mobile office, or deal with a “hot desking” situation? I’ve had a few questions about this recently, so let’s discuss.

First, Reader S — a British reader starting a new career — will be spending most workdays at clients’ offices, with no more than one day a week at the home office; she may also be commuting on very crowded public trains to and from her work. Essentially, she wonders:

How do I create a “mobile office?
- what are the essentials I should carry everday in order to have everything I need, but not look like I’m moving in and damaging my back in the process?
- What should I bring with me but maybe leave in the hotel room if I don’t need them EVERY day?
- How do I pack light clotheswise but stay stylish?
- Also, what few things should be the things I prioritize and keep in my locker at my company’s office?

A second reader, R (also from the UK! hello Brits!) wonders how to deal with a new office where “we ‘hot desk,’ meaning there are desk tops with docking stations but no drawers or pedestals (with a small locker allocated to them, so small it won’t even fit a pair of shoes.)

Whoa. I’ve always been the kind of worker who likes to really personalize my office — it’s one of the main reasons I’ve resisted working in coffee shops or a group office space now that I’m self-employed. Although it looks like hot desking is already fairly common overseas, Inc. notes that it’s the “latest office design craze” here in America as well, so let’s discuss. (And I’ll say at the outset that your job will dictate what you need — an accountant may need a more specific calculator than the one on your phone; a lawyer may need more highlighters or tape flags than a consultant, and so forth.)  We’ve talked before about how to lighten your tote bag, but here are a few more ideas for you: [Read more...]