Category Archives: Work

Open and Shut Spaces

Oh, the wide open office – that space where there are literally no walls. It’s open, free, ready for the collaboration of a lifetime. Where CEO’s rub shoulders with the masses.  A magnificent Utopia of transparency, a place where everyone is truly equal and wonderful ideas bounce off of each other like superballs.

Yeah, and it’s also a total lie. It’s loud, so you need noise cancelling headphones or else you really are unable to do the work after the wonders of collaboration.  And it’s also difficult to be there collaborating with your team when every other team is right up next to you. And if you’re a CEO, well, guess what? Everyone is watching you, taking their cues from you and, well, overreacting if you come in looking bummed from the night before and wondering what’s up when you don’t show up. Imagine being an A-List star and every one of your employees is a member of the paparazzo.

It’s a wonder work gets done at all.

Nearly 70% of U.S. office spaces are open-concept, according to the International Facility Management Association, compared with 64% two decades ago (Fuhrmans, 2017).  Led by startups which usually had everyone around the same table, as the CEO was usually one of the engineers on the team, the idea grew; Google, Zappos and other companies started to expand until it became de riguer to be completely open.  It is also cost efficient, as there is no money spent on building walls, which also makes configuration and flexibility of the space a valuable asset. Yes, communication, which is the lifeblood of a company is increased.  According to Samantha Pena on WeWork.com, “Employees are more likely to communicate with one another and work as a team. Naturally, improved communication boosts collaboration efforts between various levels of employees, so even a manager can feel more approachable” (Pena, 2017).

However, many times, creativity needs a quantum of solace in order to take something from idea into reality.  It is one reason why, some companies use the main open office for meeting and collaboration and working from home to hone and develop ideas.  After open spaces started to catch on, many companies started to install areas for employees to “focus”, which are generally off the main open area and quieter than the rest of the office.  Needless to say, these areas become the most valuable real estate in the office.

So what about the next generation of CEO’s those that have started with the open office and worked through them?  Many are opting for walls and a door. But this is not about status; this is about a space to do work without having everyone around.  And to point out – there is plenty of work that should not be public. Negotiating seed money and determining a company’s next steps in to the market need to be made without distractions. There are some conversations that are and should be confidential in nature. Playing your work life out in public sometimes does not do anyone any good. Leaders know that the timing of announcements can either bring a team together or split it apart.  A private space and a door can be the difference.

So if you have commandeered an empty conference room to try to figure out what needs to be in your PowerPoint presentation or cursing the battery life in you headphones, remember, you are not alone.

References

Fuhrmans, V. (2017, May 22). CEOs Want Their Offices Back. Retrieved from The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/ceos-want-their-offices-back-1495445400?mod=djcm_OBV1_092216&utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=referral

Pena, S. (2017, April 28). Pros and Cons Of An Open Office. Retreived from WeWork.com: https://www.wework.com/creator/how-to-guides/pros-cons-open-office/

 

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And you are moving this into production, because…?

And I said “Get out of here, you Loch Ness Monster!”Let us say you are world famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. You are getting ready to present your fall line to the public.  The lights go down, the models are ready to go and the show begins.

The first model hits the runway and about halfway down, Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue Magazine, suddenly jumps up and says “Darling that makeup is all wrong” and stops the model and proceeds to redo the model’s make up in front of the world’s fashion press.

What would you do?  Well, if you were Karl Lagerfeld, chances are you’d be in a Paris jail for beating Anna Wintour to death with a stiletto in front of Kanye West.  But basically this is what we in operations have to deal with on a daily basis.  Someone on the business side sees “something wrong”,  runs down to IT, grabs a developer and yells “FIX IT NOW”.  Now, there are a few thing blatantly wrong with this.  To start:

  1. Is it really wrong?  The same rules should be applying to everything, so if one data point is off for one, shouldn’t it be off for everyone?
  2. How is it wrong?  How off is the calculation? Exactly what should it be?
  3. Who are you and why are you in here yelling at a developer?  I’m  Operations.  I should be yelling at the developer, not you.  Shouldn’t you be talking to the project manager and going over what the rules are?

And of course, the one question that everyone misses.  What time is it? You see making changes in production is something that is dependent upon timing.  And timing in operations is like timing in comedy – it is everything.  There are risks involved with dropping changes into production in the middle of the day like a hot mic.  I need a reason why you are hell bent on shoving this in at lunch time.  Not because it is my lunch time (which really never matters), but because I have to answer for its possible failure.  There are reasons why changes are done during low traffic hours.  It doesn’t affect as many people if and when it blows up.  There is also the question of verification.  When this change goes in, how long do we need to wait to make sure that everything is OK?  If it is so important that your boss is two steps from an aneurism, then why does it take you three days to verify the procedure was done correctly?  Just saying.

Oh yeah, do the paperwork.  It’s not a problem if there’s not a ticket.  And straighten you tie.  Anna hates that.