Three years ago a Washington Post article mentioned that “Open Space” workplaces were overhyped by CEOs. You’d think that execs would apply the logic “what works for one person might not work for everyone”. Nope. Apparently if Google still does it then everyone else should too. I’ve had an office + I’ve worked in Open Space, here is the deal:
1. Collaboration+Transparency. People can shout back and forth and walk over to chat. It’s obvious who is working or not.
2. Access. Execs might be on the same row as you. No need to knock (intimidating) you can walk over and say hi. Access seems easier. People seem more personable across the chain of command
3. Real Estate. Less individual offices = more space for people. Moving people + departments is a matter of undocking a laptop and gathering what few things fit on a shared table.
1. Morale. Your spot on the table feels symbolic of your job security, temporary and easily transferable.
2. Motivation + Command. I’m 29 so ‘allegedly’ back in the day, the granting of an office was a motivating reward. You also knew who the boss was and there was a certain clarity and admiration to it.
3. Quarantine. Things get gross in Open Space. Proximity means smells, coughs, sneezes, and colds.
Conclusion. Do what works for YOUR team and business. The reality is that some people think clearer and focus more in isolation, some like a mix of isolation and exposure, and some prefer that think tank like open space collaborative environment. What you’ll notice whether you incorporate an Open Space design or not is that the individual will do what works for them: they’ll find a meeting room and seal it off for a few hours OR they’ll call everyone into a room. Things might get loud in Open Space and things might get impersonal and toxic in an office only environment. Like with anything, balance and moderation is key.
StraightUp Strategy LLC