How much is revealed about a manager by the state of his or her office desk? The Grocer gained unprecedented photographic access to the desks of some of the industry's movers and shakers. Can you guess which workstation belongs to your boss/rival/supplier/friend? Next time you watch the BBC's sci-fi series Bugs look closely and you might just see the outline of the Doughboy. The futuristic frontage of Pillsbury UK's offices in Uxbridge were chosen for the opening credits. Step inside Pillsbury's offices, and it's clear that the zippy image is carried though the corridors to the rooms of the powerful and the not so powerful. A large polystyrene model of the brand's mascot as well as a scaled down version of the company's Green Giant can often be seen dominating various directors' offices. How a person decorates and sets out their office can say much about a company's culture as well as the man or woman sitting behind the desk. Pillsbury UK managing director Jim Moseley has tried to create a fun atmosphere for his staff ­ which has included introducing a Häagen-Dazs café area in the building ­ while pride of place in his own office goes to a scale model of a 56 Thunderbird, which is his dream car. "We are a food company but the head office is a long way from the manufacturing and sourcing centres so we try to keep it fun to remind staff what we are all about," he says. According to the Institute of Directors the offices of busy company bosses in the UK tend to be surprisingly bare and tidy. The image of the out of touch managing director taking a frequent tipple from a drinks cabinet while practising his golf technique on his carpet putting machine are long gone, it says. "In fast moving industries such as grocery, a director's office is more likely to have a computer, a hands-free telephone and a television to keep in touch with the news and the company's share price," says IoD business policy executive Richard Wilson. He adds that, overall, UK offices tend to be smaller than those in the US, mainly because 95% of British firms employ fewer than 50 people, and all medium to large companies are aware of employment and disability laws relating to the office environment. This means the door entrance must be wide enough for a wheelchair, and cabinets and shelves should not be put of reach. A director's office is not just another room, but a place where high level decisions will be taken that can affect the lives of hundreds of employees. It is also somewhere they are likely to spend many hours a week, which means the surroundings must be comfortable if they are to work to maximum efficiency. The 50-year-old Ergonomics Society says time is often wasted and problems occur because the equipment in today's offices has not been designed for the person who will be using it. Desks may be too small with not enough leg room or an office may simply be poorly designed. Such problems can make a person inefficient and can lead to longer-term health problems such as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). "Ergonomics is not just about sitting up straight and having the right chair, it is realising that people differ in shape, size and the job they do. A desk must be large enough for the type of work a person is doing, for instance, while the correct lighting and ventilation can make all the difference to creating a pleasant office environment," says a spokesman. The growth in new media and internet companies has coincided with an increase in open plan offices. ceo John Browett created the company's new open office layout in April and says that despite his status, he has roughly the same amount of space as anyone else. "The office is divided into sections, but as a fast moving company we must be able to communicate with each other immediately. As ceo the only concession I have is that I am by the window, which gives me an unexciting view of the car park. All I have on my desk is a picture of my four-year-old daughter, a phone, a PC and a lamp." Gizmos, toys and too many pictures don't do anybody's image any good. Because of its open plan design, tends to hold meetings in dedicated meeting rooms. Yet the IoD says one of the reasons management in many multinationals still prefer individual offices is so they can accommodate meetings with non-executive directors and clients. The IoD says an MD will often feel more in control if a meeting is held on their territory, while those attending tend to act more businesslike because they know they are in the boss's office, regardless of how it might be decorated and whatever executive toys may catch their eye. Steve Hemsley {{COVER FEATURE }}