Being left-handed is still considered to be a problem for those who have to somehow work in environments designed for right-handers. I’ve dealt with this scenario myself, even though I’ve always had respectful consideration when it came to being mostly a Southpaw (despite actually being ambidextrous). For those left-handed all the way, working in an office might be a bit bewildering if there hasn’t been any tweaking done at your desk. An astute manager would take note of your lefty status during your interview and set up some accommodations if he or she decides to hire you.
Even if your boss initially doesn’t set up those things, what should you request before getting started? Sometimes it goes beyond desk setup so you don’t look overly awkward.
Rearrangement of Your Desk
Any manager that understands left-handed people will know that the phone will go on the left side of the desk, in addition to the collection of pens. While this may go against the uniformity of each cubicle, setting up just for a Southpaw will help reduce workplace injuries in having to constantly reach over to the other side. Even having to answer the phone left-handed from the right side of the desk can be an ergonomic hazard when done continuously for months or years.
If it’s you making the requests, you may want to recommend a headset for the phone so you don’t even have to touch anything. This leaves more room on the left side of the desk for paperwork and other items that you naturally pick up with your left hand. It also eliminates tangled cords from having to be stretched across the desk keyboard.
Buying Pens That Don’t Smear Ink
Some jobs require the use of pens on a regular basis, especially in the financial industry where documents need to be signed daily. A manager should give you pens that don’t smear ink when the side of your hand rests on the document as you write. The last thing you want is to smear ink all over a critical document in front of customers. Perhaps some people will understand when they see your left-handedness, though others will give off the impression you’re a bit strangely unprofessional.
As a personal experience, I was automatically passed through Calligraphy class in high school because all the pens were designed for right-handers. It was a very rare example of being able to obtain graduation credit for a class without having to do anything other than just being there.
Since then, I’ve avoided jobs that required having to use a tangible pen to communicate or make something legal.
Other Office Details
Creating small office tools designed for left-handed people should also be a suggestion on your part, or automatic on the manager’s side. Even though I was never able to use lefty scissors, extreme lefties need those, even if they can still be awkward to use.
Going forward, you should create notebooks that don’t have comb bindings so lefties don’t have to jab the side of their hand into the binding in order to write something. The good news is that many office tools can be made for both lefties and righties like pencil sharpeners and staplers.
Then there’s the computer mouse that can usually be reconfigured yourself for left-handed use if necessary. Regardless, the mouse is usually used right-handed by most left-handed people simply because they’re used to using that way. Even I’ve grown accustomed to using a mouse right-handed and couldn’t possibly get the hang of using one left-handed now.
The above is an example where some left-handed accommodations don’t have to be overzealous. Some of them can be natural progressions due to evolution without designing the office in a way that gives the impression someone arrived from another planet.