My personal open office saga of space

Discussing “open office” layouts is all the rage these days, I guess.  I mean, it’s popping up all over MY Twitter feed, so that makes it official right? lol

So everybody’s all raging about the open office layout — basically the idea that you throw out the walls and put everybody in one space for the sake of collaboration.  It comes at the cost of privacy and quiet, but the creatives tell us it’s a better way to work.

Some people love it. Some people hate it — loudly.

My office space at work is open, for the first time in my working career.  And there’s a lot I like about it.

I waver between being an introvert and an extrovert (can you be a sort-of-vert? a varievert? a duo-vert?) I don’t like strangers (not afraid of them; I just don’t have that gift of being all warm and friendly to people I don’t know, especially when they’re just there to pour my drink and deliver my food) and I don’t like parties or events with people I don’t really know…….But put me in a group of friends and it’s on. More laughs, more puns, more jokes. It energizes me.

I’ve realized as I’ve worked here for the past 18 months that I’m a social employee.

My first job was at a library, as a reference librarian. IT WAS AWESOME. Seriously.  (I didn’t mind it when strangers came to ask me questions, because I was in my space.)  My little office looked out over the bank of online  catalog computers and bordered the Library Director’s. People came by non-stop to “visit.”  My husband dubbed me the library’s “bartender” because I heard so many people’s stories of woe and joy. (No booze. I promise.)

My second career was in teaching, which I also loved. Teaching is hyper-social – you’re constantly in demand to offer attention and feedback. It genuinely took a few weeks at the beginning of the year to adjust to that level of social output, and at the end of the year, transitioning into the summer felt kinda lonely for a while. But I didn’t have an office. I had a classroom.  The classroom was its own “open office” – I didn’t have enough space to create separate areas for different kinds of learning. We made it all work in one rectangular box.

Nevermind all the weirdness going on for Student Appreciation Day; this is my office space. (More or less.)  Guy on the left is my boss so put in a good word.
Nevermind all the weirdness going on for Student Appreciation Day; this is my office space. (More or less.) Guy on the left is my boss so put in a good word.

Now I work in marketing and I *love* my office space because it’s open.  I feel more connected to people when I work in the same room with them, even if we don’t say anything to one another for hours at a time.  The open office feeds my inborn longing never to be left out of ANYTHING.  If there’s a joke being told, I want to hear it. If some fascinating discussion breaks out, I want to learn from it.  If someone starts quoting Monty Python, I want to be there to add a line.

But …..

This guy IS kinda right:

Offices for All! Why Open Office Layouts are bad for Employees, Bosses, and Productivity

Jason, who works for Fast.Co (I’m not sure what all they do, but I really like their Fast.Co and Co.Create blogs and read them regularly) and tries to write. But he’s constantly interrupted because the office is open.

We’ve had the same problem in our little space.  I think by talking (I’m so sorry, world! I really am!) but the two people who sit next to me don’t.  We’ve tried headphones but meetings get noisy.  Visual distractions abound.

Yet.  Yet.

I want to feel like we’re all in this TOGETHER, you know?!  Like, I’m not the only person who has 17467493023834756363252637595 unfinished tasks on her to-do list, and I’m not going to get anything accomplished on them today either, because 4 different projects or problems walked through the door and talked to me.

TOGETHER.

Maybe there’s a middle ground.  Like, we kick Cliff out of his office and then fight to the death each morning for who gets to work in peace and quiet today.
Winner takes all (private office space) and gloats with a cup of fresh-made coffee.
Losers (who can’t be really dead because, obvs, there’s work to be done!) have to work in the common space & listen to each other’s music.

Incentive. ( I like prog metal…..)

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