It’s moving day. Your essential work tools — dog-eared reference books, stacks of ratty notepads — have been jumbled into plastic crates, to be offloaded into a sleek, modular cube with all the character and privacy of a surgical theater. Meanwhile, the tchotchkes you rely on to keep you sane and motivated — family photos, musical cards, Crazy Cat Lady action figure — have become paraphernalia non grata, to be schlepped home in a 1.2-cubic-foot cardboard box.

“You really can’t take anything else with you,” says Rocco Balsamo from JK Moving Services, the company helping The Washington Post relocate this week. Downsizing is the watchword as employers respond to economic pressures and technological changes by seeking more space-efficient quarters. A survey by CoreNet Global found that the average square footage per worker fell from 225 in 2010 to 150 or less in 2013.

As a practical matter, paperless technology — replacing thumbtacked photos with a digital frame and reference books with online versions — can help you retain some sense of self and shelf space. Making use of white noise generators, “quiet rooms,” and “huddle spaces” might help compensate for your lost privacy and personal space.

But these won’t address the emotional toll of an office move.

Workers often experience anxiety about the company’s security (and theirs), loss from giving up personal space and effects, and stress about adapting to new routines, says integrative career counselor Janice Herold; depending on how attached they were to the old building, “sometimes people go through actual grieving.”

You may also be questioning your identity, especially in a workplace where square footage equals status. It’s hard to feel that you belong in a company where little “belongs” to you.

“Watch out for what you’re making it all mean,” warns career coach Alison Elissa Cardy. Focus not on what you’re losing in the move, but on what you’re getting from the job, she says.

Life and career counselor Jim Weinstein suggests coming in early or staying late to give yourself more quiet time to work and acclimate. To that, I would add: Allow time for stumbles and fumbles such as getting locked in the stairwell or lost in the parking garage.

If you’re moving from a private to a shared workspace, Weinstein notes, you’ll need to negotiate ground rules for using that space and signals to request privacy. And be newly mindful of how your speaker-phone conversations, personal grooming habits and desk lunches affect others.

Balsamo assures me that by the time he follows up, most workers have adjusted. But if you’re still unhappy, Herold says, personal or career counseling can help you determine whether the move has uncovered deeper dissatisfaction that can be resolved only with a bigger change.

Ask Karla Miller about your work dramas and traumas by emailing Read more @Work Advicecolumns.

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