By prioritizing open communication, inclusivity, and shared spaces, we can break down the traditional barriers that hinder collaboration and hinder organizational success. In the rest of this blog post, I will explore the profound impact that giving up my corner office had on our company's dynamics, highlighting the benefits of a more egalitarian approach to workspace and emphasizing the importance of fostering a culture where everyone's voice is valued and heard. Join me on this journey of transformation and discover how a simple decision can lead to extraordinary outcomes for both individuals and organizations.
How it all began
As our company, ATCS, experienced rapid growth, we reached a point where a bigger office space was necessary to accommodate the expanding team. In 2017, we collectively decided to move into a larger office capable of housing up to 20 colleagues and multiple meeting rooms. With the availability of more rooms, I was tempted to claim a corner office for myself. Surprisingly, my colleagues supported this decision, and I felt excited to finally have my own corner office—a long-held dream from my upbringing in a working-class family.
A dream comes true: Having the corner office initially felt like a dream come true. As a child, I had admired those in powerful positions who called the shots from their secluded spaces. However, this dream quickly turned into an uncomfortable reality. Despite being physically present in the office with my team most of the time, the isolation of the corner office felt unnatural. I realized that being separated from the team hindered open communication, collaboration, and a sense of camaraderie.
Giving up the corner office
Realizing the impact of the corner office on the dynamics of our company, I made a bold decision—to give up my corner office. Instead, I opted to turn it into a meeting room and embrace a more egalitarian approach to office space. I chose not to have a dedicated seat in the big room office, floating around and taking different seats each day. This change in seating arrangement was met with mixed reactions from the team.
Phase 1 - Uncertainty and suspicion: Initially, my colleagues were taken aback by my decision. They wondered why I was relinquishing the coveted corner office and whether I had ulterior motives. Some even speculated that I might be spying on them. The unfamiliarity of the situation created uncertainty and skepticism.
Phase 2 - Warmth and inclusion: As time went on, my colleagues began to warm up to the idea. They realized that my presence in the big room office meant I was more accessible and approachable. They started pulling me into discussions, seeking my input, and involving me in various projects. This increased collaboration fostered a sense of camaraderie and a shared commitment to the company's success.
Phase 3 - Normalization and empowerment: Eventually, the new dynamic normalized, and everyone in the company understood the power of this change. The open office layout facilitated instant communication, idea sharing, and learning from one another. By being present in the big room office, I had the opportunity to take phone calls with customers and other executives, which provided valuable insights and strengthened relationships.
Lessons learned and the way forward
While my story of giving up a corner office might seem insignificant in today's COVID-impacted world, it carries broader implications. It serves as a reminder that no individual is more important than the collective effort of a team. Titles and hierarchical structures should not create barriers to communication and collaboration. Moving forward, it is crucial to foster a culture of equality, transparency, and shared responsibility within organizations, regardless of physical office arrangements.
In conclusion, giving up my corner office and embracing a more inclusive and collaborative workspace has had a profound impact on our company. It taught me valuable lessons about leadership, emphasizing the importance of open communication, equality, and shared responsibility.
By breaking down the barriers between management and employees, we fostered a culture of collaboration and empowerment. Despite initial skepticism, my presence in the open workspace became an opportunity for increased collaboration, idea sharing, and a sense of empowerment among the team.
Moving forward, it is crucial to prioritize a culture of equality and transparency. True leadership is not defined by titles or physical trappings of power but by actions that inspire and empower others. By embracing a more inclusive approach, everyone can unlock the collective potential of the teams, fuel innovation, and drive organizational success.
Let's remember that success as leaders is measured by our ability to create an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute their best. Together, we can build transformative work cultures that drive growth and lasting success.