December 25, 2013

The Lie Of The Open Workspace

There are so many workplace liars—the problem is many of them are experienced and good at selling you a bunch of malarkey.

Often, they tell you what they want, either to save the company money or to make themselves look innovative, but either way it’s inevitably at your cost. 

One of these lies is from chieftains that tell you’ll be better off working in an open workspace--i.e. thrown into a corporate bullpen.

Oh, by the way, vacate your office by Friday!

Sure there are a plethora of benefits to having common spaces to share ideas and open up communications—and these should be plentiful and stocked with comfy sofas, energy-inducing munchables, and ample white boards and tech gear to facilitate collaboration.

But when the pendulum swings all the way to the other side, and your personal office space become a hoteling situation, you know you are losing out to penny-pinching executives, who want to save on leasing office space, furniture, and the like in order to boost their personal bonuses at the end of the year. 

Just ask yourself:

- Do people need privacy to handle sensitive personnel, budget, contracting, and strategic planning and execution issues (as well as occasional family or personal issues—we are all human)?

- Do you need time to close the door for some quiet time to think, innovate, and catch up on work?

- Is there a genuine human need to have a place to put your work and personal things to be productive and comfortable?

The truth is that people need and deserve a balanced work environment—one where people can move healthily between closed and open spaces, individual work and teamwork, privacy and sharing, creativity and productivity, individualism and conformity, comfort and cost-savings. 

Anyone that tells you that people work better in a fully open environment where you have to book up a desk and computer is selling you on short-term organizational cost-savings at the expense of longer-term human capital satisfaction and productivity.

Next time, a “leader” tries to convince you of the merits of your not having a professional workspace, desk, computer, and so on—ask yourself whether you want to work in a Motel 6 every day or for a stable organization that values and invests in it people. 

An appropriate blended environment of open and closed work spaces, where it shows that you are empowered and valued is a career, and not just a job;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to epochgraphics)

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