A reshuffle behind the yellow door
They say that change is as good as a
holiday, so when the opportunity arose for us to make changes to our workspace,
we decided to go all in. While there are mixed opinions about open-plan
offices, for us it made sense to re-integrate our team into one space and make
our boardroom/ focus room larger.
When we moved from our tiny start-up space on Wale Street, our layout was separated into four rooms, the “engine room”, the “boiler room”, the boardroom and the “bosses’ office”. As a team we communicated mostly through Slack – our internal instant messenger app, and besides our stand up “scrum” first thing in the morning, we had days where we didn’t interact in person all that much.
In the few days post-move, we are now all settled into one space (albeit it’s still essentially two rooms, but with an open door between them) and we’ve created a focus room that allows anyone to enjoy some alone time on the daybed or at the boardroom table.
The ability to easily discuss something spontaneously and work together to solve an issue is a great addition to our work flow. While some of the team were doing this on their own before, this new layout gives everyone an opportunity to chip in and often leads to a quicker solution or a more creative outcome.
As leaders, there were benefits to being separated from employees in that we were able to talk freely about high-level decisions and strategy. However, the converse is that we missed the day to day activity and were possibly creating a culture of “us vs them” without realising it, which isn’t helpful when wearing our hats as managers. We know the importance of communication in the workplace – and in life in general – and so we felt it necessary to join the conversation.
A year or so ago we started dedicating a period of each workday to focus time. It started out as “power hours” between 10h30 and 12h30, which has developed in to what we call Paquera*, a 90-minute blackout from 10h30 to 12h00 where we don’t communicate with each other but rather focus on getting through our big tasks. We also start the day with a quick discussion about what we would each like to focus on in that period and this gives us all the opportunity to ask questions and plan our day.
While our reasons for the shuffle were abstract, what we hope to gain from it is a better team environment with more creativity and a sense of togetherness. In essence, this is what we believe will help us to be more productive and service our clients better in the long run.
*The name Paquera stems from the story that there is a small village by that name in Costa Rica which is a 4.5-hour drive from the nearest major city, one day someone worked out that they could get across the bay in only about 90 minutes by ferry saving the residents of Paquera time and money. Anthony found this gem somehow and the name has stuck ever since.
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