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Squatters, or welcome guests?

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Slightly hypothetical, but give it a chance.

I use a shared space office area in which i can go to meet with colleagues and peers.  It's been around a while and served a very good purpose - despite a bit of redecoration a couple of years back which left it looking a bit cheap and gawdy.  It doesnt get so busy these days but is still well used.

There is a sign on the door explaining the purpose of the area but there have always been the odd randoms coming in off the street and loitering around the coffee machine - sometimes they listen in to our conversations, chip in with their thoughts or questions and nobody really minds, other times they are firmly but fairly guided to the door.

There are a couple of staff who tidy round the place from time to time, wipe down the sofas, etc, but we generally take care of it ourselves.

We have recently got a new caretaker (a caretaker caretaker apparently) who doesnt like the way things are, and has caused a bit of a stir.  The sign on the door is still there - item six i believe - and makes it clear that the area is for people to come in and converse with their **fellow** accountants.  The caretaker stated a while ago that the area is not, and never was, for such people and is in fact a free area for all people to use.  I have pointed out the sign on the door, but have received no explanation for this change (and indeed the very fact that it IS a change is denied).

The caretaker obviously doesnt own the place, but he does have the keys to the door.  The question is what to do about the stragglers who come in to our little space.  On the one hand, the caretaker is welcoming them with open arms and the regulars are pushing them away, so i do feel sorry for them.  On the other hand, the sign on the door is clearly visible, and they have walked straight past the very first time they came in, so they should really know better.

To make matters worse, there is a bar in the corner which is well known for being a little bit rowdy, but very friendly as long as people show a bit of respect and dont take life too seriously.  You can spot it a mile off.  Some people (mainly the randoms, but supported by a minority of the regulars) have complained about the bar and say it should be replaced with a meditation zone where everyone can have a ittle cuddle and reassure people about how special they all are.  It is very much like people who buy a house next to a pub and then moan about the music on a saturday noight.  The caretaker not only panders to these people but is quite shirty with anyone who resists the 'new' rules - or at least his interpretation of them.  |Remember, he doesnt own the place - but he does have the keys and he has been known to lock people out on occasion.  I used to regularly get raciong tips from one of the regulars - they had done quite well on the gee gees i think, and drove a porche.  They arent allowed in any more sadly.

Sometimes i wish the actual owners would just take the sign off the door, admit the rules have changed, and be done with it.  It would probably lead to the space being as an overnight drop in centre/doss house eventually, rather than being a safe place we can use, but in all honesty it's likely to go that way anyway if this caretaker gets his way - just rather more slowly and with more ill feeling from the former users of the site (oops, sorry, i mean office space not site)

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By SXGuy
15th Aug 2020 07:37

More to the point, why would any accountant want to work in that environment? Don't think it sounds very professional from a clients point of view.

But I guess the obvious answer would be to speak to the owners and demand they lay down some real rules and insist the caretaker follows them.

Sounds more like a squat to me though without more info.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Mr_awol
15th Aug 2020 22:07

SXGuy wrote:

More to the point, why would any accountant want to work in that environment? Don't think it sounds very professional from a clients point of view.

Ah but that’s the point isn’t it. This shared space was an accountants only area where we could ask technical questions, talk about PITA clients, discuss pricing and profitability, advise people looking to join our fold, and basically be free from the shackles of maintaining a ‘professional image’ (within reason).

It wasn’t a networking group for members of the public to mingle with us and get free advice - or for us to showcase our skill sets. I never went into the building to pick up clients and the sign on the door did clearly indicate it was a room full of accountants - so there should not have been any clients (current OR potential in earshot of the rowdy lads and laddettes congregating at the bar in the corner.

If the sign was wrong all these years, then we need to know. If the rules have changed, it would have been polite for those that make the rules to inform all the existing occupants. If, on the other hand, the caretaker is just letting (or encouraging) any old Thomas, Richard or Harold to join the club and he’s actually in the wrong - then he needs to stop it or we need a new caretaker.

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By bernard michael
15th Aug 2020 09:54

The OP says "I Use". Does he pay rent ?? If so he should look to his lease and complain to the lessor if his rights are being infringed
Alternatively
The OP is MDTP who is trying to improve the pub FOC
The premises sound a lot like some very old town pubs I've been in

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Replying to bernard michael:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Aug 2020 19:15

Re old Town Pubs, its does sound a bit like our local in reverse.
We have (or had) a drunk landlord who was sometimes very nice and welcoming, and other times a real PITA, but he kept excellent beer, and regardless of whether he was in a good or bad mood, gave a certain something in the atmosphere.

He really annoyed many people (especially families with kids who he despised and rarely came back, and some of which complained to the owner of the pub, which happens to be a community group, when then complained to the landlord, who then moaned ot the regulars about it). I didn't take my kids in there very often as they were a bit scared of him - I think this was deliberate on his part as its a drinking pub for grown ups, that does meals, not a family restaurant.

He also put the backs up a number of dignitaries in the village, the type who come in for a quiet drink about 3 times a year and thinking they are "supporting the pub" and drink less in a year than some regulars in a night.

One time one of the local councillor came in, and there is a bar length slanging match between the Landlord and a regular in his 70's who is winding him up up (he used to order crisps and then lob the packet at the Landlord's head when he was looking at the optics, the landlord played up to it hugely, pretty much egging him on to do it again by reminding him not to at every opportunity) Everyone else in there is in stitches given this has been going on for weeks, the person in question is already of course 'barred' from buying crips, but other people of course buy them for him and put them in his hand and he would spend a good hour waiting for the perfect moment to lob. Anyhow the councillor was not amused (it was basically a load of people shouting if you walked in on it and a packet of crisps being lobbed about), and essentially got the landlord sacked.

By ditching the essence of the place, they have ripped out the heart and soul of it. The welcoming bar you could before go in and be introduced by the landlord (who knew everyone's names, even my dads name having not been in twice with a 6 months gap) is now largely empty. No crips being thrown as there is no-one in there. All the regulars are much less likely to go in. The whole point of going in there (the general sense of entertainment in a 'what the heck is going to happen tonight') has vanished, and at the heart of it the beer is crap. Or at least it was before lockdown, I haven't been back since.

I think there is room for mad old local pubs full of in jokes and oddness. Not everything has to be family friendly and wipe down. We had a good space for adults to talk to other adults in a robust manner knowing they nothing leaves the pub, and you could have a stand up row with someone about Brexit one minute (which I did a lot) and be buying them a pint the next is a great place to be. Some people didn't get it (like our Councillor walking in on the crips tossing) they seem to mistake some larking about with a serious brawl and try to change what they don't understand, and kill what they were trying to save in the process.

I understood their intentions but it was impossible to explain to them why what they had worked, its a bit like someone coming to a picasso, and saying "but that is not what a human face looks like, what he wants to do is make those eyes the same level, and move the nose"

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
18th Aug 2020 16:42

'what the heck is going to happen tonight'

I love that phrase. It remind me of my local years ago, though to be honest at 10pm on a Saturday night you knew what was going to happen! Just be sure to have a firm grip on your pint and look out for which direction the trouble was going to come from. It was the sort of pub where five blokes turned up kitted out for a toga party wearing bedsheets from head to toe and the barman didn't blink an eyelid.

Happy days. Those pubs are nearly all gone now. I went back to it a few years ago and it's all posh now.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
15th Aug 2020 14:35

I always enjoyed allegory within literature though not sure you are yet quite up there with Chaucer.

You might start writing some individual tales to say represent the various departed as outlined within your opus.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Dib
17th Aug 2020 13:29

I read half way through the post before realising the allegorical nature of it! Looking forward to the lawyer's tale and the pig's tale (or tail). :o)

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blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
16th Aug 2020 10:04

We had a similar area that we used to call the common room until one member objected to the term common as he felt it lowered the tone, so we started calling it professional room but then one of the younger members disputed the term room as being too old fashioned and preferred to use the term professional space.

We then had a further objection from a member that said the space wasn't spacious enough to be called that and another who said that if we are going to call it professional theres no way that new cowboy in office 3 would be permitted entry as some of the questions he asked were so basic and elementary he wondered how he could even call himself an accountant.

We asked the caretaker to decide but he said that it was not up to the members to decide anything, and besides the cowboy was a member of a professional body so had automatic rights.

Despite all the arguing, name calling and general bad feeling amongst some of the members and between a group of members and the caretaker, life carries on as normal, even members who say they have had enough of this and unless something is done to restore the space to a room they are going to pick up their ball and take it home they always seem to come back.

The caretakers boss seems happy enough as the more people that lurk outside trying to catch what is said inside the more money they make, in fact there seem to be more people at the window the more heated the argument. Some member suggested that there might be a plant in amongst the members who deliberately provoked the other members and the younger member from space said that he agreed, that Yucca in the corner had driven him mad a few times.

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By Duggimon
17th Aug 2020 10:14

Maybe you just can't have a shared office space with more than two people without someone having a hairy fit about the rules.

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Replying to Duggimon:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
17th Aug 2020 10:27

Of course in the real world it is the following that actually cause the issues-

1. Finishing the coffee
2. Using the last of the milk
3. Never washing one's mug
4. Using the micro , allowing something to explode in it on a Friday, not cleaning it and someone else then trying to use it on the Monday.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Mr_awol
17th Aug 2020 12:10

Or putting the leftovers of last night's fish pie in the microwave - then leaving the plate in the dishwasher.

Or, quite often, nuking curry - although this sometimes seems to be permitted.

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Caroline
By accountantccole
17th Aug 2020 12:10

This hurt my head, trying to pick out the double meanings!

I get more benefit from the regular tenants than the level of pain of dealing with Joe Public popping in, the notice board is kept up to date so we can carry on doing our own thing and just ignore the public if they get too annoying?

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By Bob Loblaw
18th Aug 2020 15:17

It sounds like the caretaker, regulars and professionals who occupy this shared space are all massive knackers. I think the best option is to burn the shared space to the ground and dance in the ashes.

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Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
18th Aug 2020 15:38

It sounds as though your caretaker is on a bit of an ego trip.

Do you know what his home life is like? Perhaps he's in the sort of relationship where he's a bit of a doormat, and he vents his frustrations on you lot with the little power he has in his role as caretaker.

Maybe it's nothing like that and he's just a di... fficult individual.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By John Isabel
21st Aug 2020 11:41

I Concur

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By Lisa R
18th Aug 2020 15:59

Do any of you who use the shared space pay rent?
If not, maybe they're just more interested in getting people in to spend money in the bar.

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Replying to Lisa R:
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By Tax Dragon
18th Aug 2020 17:02

I like that. A realistic view of the space.

True story: there's a shared space I know called Longleat (other shared spaces of the ilk are available). It's actually, several shared spaces - they tend to keep the wolves, lions and dragons separate (talking donkeys can of course go into the dragon's den, as often as they like). I guess letting the animals share doesn't always end well; I guess some might know that better than others.

The public can use the space. The advice is to stay in their cars. It's only advice though. Taunting the inmates is not allowed - and gets the taunters thrown out. Something other spaces of other ilks could perhaps sensibly emulate.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Lisa R
18th Aug 2020 18:01

The caretaker could charge the public to taunt the accountants, maybe he already does!

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Lisa R
19th Aug 2020 14:16

D'oh! Is there a facepalm emoji on here? Either way, I stand by my last comment ;-)

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By John Isabel
21st Aug 2020 14:27

Can we have an update from the OP as to whether the situation has improved (or got worse)?

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Slim
By Slim
21st Aug 2020 16:35

There needs to be give and take, I don't mind helping out other professionals as I know if I need help I will get it, strangers on the other hand are all take.

Also this place is most helpful (IMO) with questions about running a practice than the nitty gritty tax or accounting issues.

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Replying to Slim:
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By Tax Dragon
21st Aug 2020 17:09

Slim wrote:

There needs to be give and take.

Well said. (And it makes the ungrateful, graceless, unpleasant, downright rude behaviour of some of the all-take-no-give brigade even more distasteful.)

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Replying to Slim:
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By Matrix
22nd Aug 2020 07:53

I think you have hit the nail on the head there. It is the lack of give and take which bothers us and which Sift don’t seem to understand in opening up the forum to everyone.

They think the freeloaders are prospects and we are touting for business on here, whereas we just want to discuss industry related issues.

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Replying to Matrix:
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By Tax Dragon
22nd Aug 2020 09:44

The argument, I guess, is that there's space for both. Just as at Longleat there's space for monkeys and lions. But you want to see them separately (let's think of a suitable allegory... oh I know, it's like Any Answers and UKBF, separate forums and you know what you want to see in each). It's an odd idea to put both together.

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Replying to Matrix:
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By Paul Crowley
22nd Aug 2020 16:38

I agree
If freeloaders want an accountant they look for an accountant.
I am sure that there would be objections to a standard reply being
'PM me and we can discuss fees'

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