If anyone who knows us has heard, our department has a bright, shiny new office space in Bobst Library. We’ve moved in, unpacked, and started making good use of our whiteboard walls. And glass. Lots of sliding glass doors and walls, which we write on shamelessly.
Our space brings countless new possibilities for co-working and increased productivity. Those possibilities come with changes to our working styles, as we were formerly spread all across the library’s many floors. Most drastic a distance of all was Mike, who spends one day a week with us.
But change is a good thing! Standing desks, for one thing, are a revelation. And much more importantly than that, we’ve got myriad opportunities for collaboration.
There are the opportunities afforded by the physical space, of course. It’s unlike any other space in Bobst, and it was designed with innovation and collaboration in mind. We’ve already covered our whiteboard walls with lists and sketches and workflows. (Sidenote: has anyone ever seen such a beautiful workflow as this one from Iris?)
Beyond that, there are the interpersonal opportunities. The four of us span a wide spectrum of working styles. I, personally, am more of the ambush-you-in-person-with-questions/thoughts variety, while Iris puts her head down and burrows deep into her work solo for long stretches. I’m a chatter who never minds being interrupted, so it’s important for me to remember to ping people on Slack first, to avoid disrupting someone’s flow and productivity.
We share the space with our Web Dev team, and so learning about and respecting boundaries is an essential, ever-present factor. We’re a pleasant group in general, but it’s still important to look around and see who near the kitchen looks especially focused on their work before you operate Nadaleen’s decently loud SodaStream.
And we’re learning about each other’s quirks more, which has been particularly fun, like the fact that Nadaleen brings us random junk, such as the broken chair for which she has unspecified plans of a creative nature. I’m a big nester and arranger of fresh flowers (seriously), and Iris draws some of the finest diagrams and workflows we’ve yet seen on her whiteboard area.
We still utilize Slack mightily, despite no longer being flung to the four corners of the wind, mostly to respect each others time and working style and to avoid popping in too much. Though at the same time, we do more popping in, which is a benefit of the space. It’s a popping-in-balancing-act.
Being that we’re a small, scrappy, agile team, and everyone wears many hats, we often have need of each other’s expertise. So our new proximity is proving to be for the better, as it’s easier to grab someone for a quick consultation before going back about your business. And the collaborative opportunities are greater than before.
Instead of cramming ourselves into Nadaleen’s former, smaller office, we now have all the space and whiteboards we could need. We recently did a deep dive as a team, and already have a list of short term and long term solutions to pain points users currently experience when trying to reserve a study room at Bobst.
We had such a productive (and frankly, fun) session that we blocked off five hours the following Friday for another collaborative session. Nadaleen made good use not just of our whiteboard walls, but our whiteboard conference table.
This week, we built on all this collaborative work with a staff meeting devoted to listening to the Harvard Business Review podcast featuring Basecamp CEO Jason Fried, Restoring Sanity to the Office. While we didn’t agree with certain of his assertions (we find our staff meetings to be a great time to reconnect and gain insights into each other’s work), other ideas resonated with us.
We’re going to take Fried’s advice and start with little things, such as one to two ‘library rule’ days per month, wherein we follow universal library rules (oh, the irony) and sit quietly, not disturbing each other unless absolutely necessary. Basically, a quiet day. Even Slack usage will be as limited as possible, with non-emergency items being pinned in the Slack channels so that we can return to them later.
Another idea we’re going to test run concerns tactics for getting us into better productivity flow states. We’ve designated Friday mornings as quiet, solo time, and will then move into collaborative group work in the afternoon.
As ever, we intend to remain agile and ready to pivot whenever necessary. Our new space is affording us countless new opportunities for innovation and collaboration, and we’re going to take advantage of every last one.
Who else out there has experimented with different office norms? Tell us in the comments!
And of course, every office should have a mascot. Meet ours: