Cubicles are not for humans or are they?
Teamwork is needed and super valuable as it creates force multiplier opportunities. Outsider perspectives create better answers than experts as they are fresh. Two is better than one.
However, game-changing teamwork is elusive.
You must have talented wholly committed team members. Click on categories Motivating workers, Culture Development, Recruitment, Team Development, and Being the Right Person to improve this dynamic in your business. I recommend reading one a day. We all need reminders.
I was at a business the other day and saw what I too often see.
Office workers in cubes and managers in private offices. This is way too common here in China. I see this and sigh. You can have good teamwork with this setup, but you can do much better.
First, what are the private offices for? I have secrets all over my desk that must be preserved?
I thought our goal was to be a team.
The office workers each have a cube that is their space. Why do we have dividers? Don’t we have enough keeping us from being a team without artificial constructs?
Cubicles are Not for Humans – from way back it was known
A key owner in the project that developed cubicals left for moral reasons and said in 1970.
One does not have to be an especially perceptive critic to realize that AO II (cubicles) is definitely not a system which produces an environment gratifying for people in general. But it is admirable for planners looking for ways of cramming in a maximum number of bodies, for “employees” (as against individuals), for “personnel,” corporate zombies, the walking dead, the silent majority. A large market.
Imagine an office where workers work just as you have them in the big area but without the cubes. That is not going back to the past as shown in the picture. Note how much space was used. Cubes were used to pack us in tighter.
Life Without Cubicles
We now could all share one table that we sit around that has enough space for all our work. When we type, we see the movements and work all around us in our peripheral vision. We can interrupt each other with a look or question just like might happen at a dinner table with friends. We do not feel the need to seek an appointment. It is easier to say,”Hey, did you check on that?” or “Can you help me get the data for this report?” or “Do you know the way to 5th and XiXingLu?” or “Is little Benny feeling better?” and on and on.
My office runs this way, and it is the first time I have used no cube. Two years later we would not turn back. Actually, from day one we felt right at home.
Naturally, there are drawbacks people worry about. Isaac is talking with a candidate as I type. I admire his ability to draw in the candidate but do not feel any distraction in my writing here. Sometimes a little more private conversation is needed, and Isaac moves to a private room that is for this purpose. Then he comes back to his place on this large table kitty-corner from me. The baseline is we are together, but anyone can get private space as needed, Why would we use Cubicles?
For more thoughts on redesign, check out what I did with the GM office at one factory I led. We can gain engagement and a real team through great leadership, but we should not forget that how we arrange the office will determine a lot of what we might gain in the feeling of our organization.