The best way to learn a new language is full immersion. Travel to a new land and day by day learn and adapt. Over time we cease being a stranger in a new land. I find myself after three months of travel less a stranger and speaking with a new tongue with my new company.
Transitioning from a traditional organization to a tech-centered start-up has been a wonderful learning experience. One of the fun learning experiences is sitting in an open environment. I sit at a long work table with six people, three on one side including me, and three on the other. These are my team. Behind me is a similar table with three more of my team and my boss (Director of Credit) and her boss (Chief Operating Officer) as well as a fellow manager in our credit group. Everyone in the company sits in a similar fashion. Offices are for meetings and private discussions.
A new language indeed on how to operate in such a setup. My journey is going well and I find that I thrive in this setup. My initial seat was at a different table at the end, but I moved to my present center position with great result.
After I moved to this position I realized that I sit at the exact center of my team. Three across from me, one on either side and three behind me. If I raise my desk to a standing position (really cool), I have an amazing view of my excellent team at work. What an advantage and opportunity for a leader.
We are a production unit and this setup leads to quick and efficient discussions when necessary. At the same time, we respect each other and know when focus is needed on the screen and work product. I have immersed myself into this strange land and now speak as a native.
See below for my quick drawing of this setup. I sit right there in the center and would not want it any other way. This open-work environment is not for every business and each organization should take the time to explore the right fit for the work and people in their organization.