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First Day, Open Office
February 13, 2012 - 10:18pm

All of my professional career I've had a room of my own. The ability to close the door. Floor to ceiling walls. A window. A desk. A round table and chairs.

Today we moved into our new open offices, and all of that is gone. I couldn't be happier.

Our new offices include:

  • A mix of stand-up and sit-down desks (we all could choose).
  • An open floor plan - with all of our desks in two large connected rooms.
  • Lots of bright colors, textured fabrics, glass, and interesting surfaces.
  • An abundance of natural and artificial light.
  • Lots of social spaces, including a kitchen with a big island and comfy places to sit, eat and talk.

The floor contains a number of small and medium sized conference rooms, all of which are equipped with phones, monitors, and cabling for quick laptop plug-in.  The idea is that we can use these rooms (either by reserving them or if they are open) for quick meetings, webinars, private phone conversations and team meetings.  

Going from a private office to a big and open collaborative workspace will require some adjustments.  The culture at my institution is more about individual offices than open work spaces.  Offices, like everywhere else, are markers of status - with the higher up you go the bigger the office and the better the view.  An open office plan subverts the traditional status hierarchy.  We are all on the same level.  All of our conversations are out in the open.  

Am I worried about our new open offices? Sure, a bit. Will I be able to concentrate to write, read, and think? (Or will the open office plan push me to see quiet places when I need to accomplish heads down work?).  What will colleagues who come and visit think of our new open offices? Will we be sending the message that we are a group that believes in experimentation, collaboration, sharing, and communication - that we are egalitarian and progressive? Or will visitors make other assumptions?

I'm excited about our experimental offices. I'm excited that the architects and planners took such care to think about how our team collaborates and what we produce, and were able to make our culture physical in the form of furniture, walls, glass, light and color.  

What is your experience with open offices?   

Have you moved into space that was designed for your team?

Anyone want to come and visit?  


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