The Distance Between Us

Twenty two feet.  That is the distance from my office door to my chair.  Quite a walk.  Presently, I sit in a corner office, but an office move lies ahead.  After several years in large corner offices, I will move to a smaller office, half the distance, door to chair.

Distant train 1Yet it is still too far.  There remains a distance between us, reinforced by our office layout.  It is the end days of my current organization and well, our furniture and layout will outlive me.

As I ponder my workspace, I read two terrific and entertaining articles on Fast Company Magazine.  One is a manifesto pushing closed-door offices for everyone.  The companion article spells out how an open-work environment is best for most organizations.  I highly recommend you read both (links below).

I have never worked in an open-work environment.  It still may happen with a company and even career change waiting for me over the next year or so.  I look forward to the possibility.  Really, I do.  From 22 feet to no feet at all is my new leadership mantra.

In the first Fast Company article written by Jason Feifer, “Offices for All! Why Open-Office Layouts are Bad For Employees, Bosses, and Productivity” we get a personal and even humorous view on why an open-work environment does not work.  No, I do not agree with offices for all as a solution.  Yet, he makes good points including “open-office layouts distance us from our coworkers”.  He is not talking physical distance.  It is the deeper relationships that come from longer and more focused conversations he has found born in private offices.  Yes, he is getting to the heart of the matter.

When reading the companion article, “How to Create an Open Office that is More Awesome For Both Introverts and Extroverts”, the author, Anjali Mullany acknowledges the points made by Jason, but then goes on to make the case for how a well designed open space can work and work very well.

A “diversity of spaces” in an organization makes the difference between bad open space and excellent open space environments. A variety of space to collaborate with coworkers and the space to focus on quiet individual production.  It is a club and a library set next to each other.

It can work.  It takes commitment and open discussion.  We know what we need to produce as individuals and as a team.  We set the rules for play and everyone into the pool … staff and leaders alike.  Distance, both physical and otherwise, ends today.

I am beginning to pack now for my next office.  It will be my last before a change.  I do plan to live out my new leadership mantra, born from this post … From 22 feet to no feet at all. It is time to remove this distance between us.


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