Workplace: Fewer or more walls?

The world moves and changes at a rapid pace and when I see folks that work in larger companies struggle with on a day-to-day basis is their personal space. As companies grow the trend seems to be moving towards open office environments. Is that the best way or does it look great? This is a recent article from The Washington Post titled: “Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace” and it is definitely worth a read.

I work in an open office environment. Some days it works and some days it is hard to focus. It is fun, there is transparency, but I am not always sure that everyone is truly as productive in an open environment. Plus it can be highly distracting.

Does the open environment matter based on the individuals that sit in the space? Yes. If you do not get along, you do not necessarily want to have walls down. If you do, it can be so easy to talk and banter with those that sit close to you that you might look back on your day and think about what you really got done. This quote from the article says it all:

“If employers want to make the open-office model work, they have to take measures to improve work efficiency. For one, they should create more private areas — ones without fishbowl windows.  Also, they should implement rules on when interaction should be limited. For instance, when a colleague has on headphones, it’s a sign that you should come back another time or just send an e-mail.  And please, let’s eliminate the music that blankets our workspaces.  Metallica at 3 p.m. isn’t always compatible with meeting a 4 p.m. deadline.”

Private areas to meet when necessary. A place to make private phone calls if needed. Agreed upon rules on music and definitely ones that respect the use of headphones. Maybe we need little “Do Not Disturb” flags at our desk? I wonder if there is an app for that. I do not desire at all to move back to cubicle land, but if you have an open environment there needs to be a thoughtful approach to how it caters to those of differing needs. We are not one size fits all.

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