Facebook’s new office in Palo Alto
If you’re interested in showing people you’re committed to a work environment, as a business coach and mentor, I can say that the easiest way to do that is by getting rid of your private offices. Seriously. While this isn’t the only way to show your committed to the free-flow of information, I believe it’s a powerful way of setting the stage—so to speak—for your employees to pick up on the importance of free-flow information, feedback, and ultimately, success.
When I was a little kid in Winnipeg, Canada, I attended the first “open concept” school, which meant that there were no classrooms, no walls, and lots of great buzz. Sure, there were lots of distractions, but also lots of absorbing what others were doing, too. From this experience, I learned how to focus when I had to, and also how to filter out what I could learn from others around.
Building an open office doesn’t mean that the employees work out in the open and CEO and other senior staff can retreat to private offices. Everyone has to be out in the open—and I mean everyone. Of course, you can still have groups of people with glass walls between some areas. For example, why not create the “Finance Fishbowl” and put all the finance people in one area and give them a glass wall if needed. You can also go radical and have the only barriers be forty-two inch high work stations–that’s only three and a half feet, so you really aren’t blocking much at all. Everyone can see everyone, which means no hiding. If you aren’t working, it’ll be obvious.
The benefits of an open work space are numerous. For starters, open offices teach you to filter out the noise and still concentrate on your work. They also allow everyone to hear what’s going on, which means they’ll understand others’ roles better. Best of all? You’ll feel the energy and togetherness grow within the company because you can see everyone more than when they are hiding out in walled offices. Obviously if you want to have private work areas, spots to take confidential phone calls, or little places for private discussions, you can still have lots of small meeting rooms. But whatever you do, get out of your offices!
Pic Chill Out Point
For more information on this topic, check out: Building a World Class Culture.