Tag Archives: office dynamics

Sit. Stand. Design.

Some interesting reading from around the Web…

From The Wall Street Journal:

The New Science of Who Sits Where at Work: Companies Try to Boost Productivity by Micromanaging Seating Arrangements

Over at The Economist:

Standing orders: Real science lies behind the fad for standing up at work

Great advice from Sarah Von Bargen:

6 Tricks To Stay Healthy While Sitting + Staring At Screens All Day

And, for the design junkies among us, something completely different from Brain Pickings:

Need a House, Call Ms. Mouse: Progressive Vintage Children’s Book Starring a Female Architect

 

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Are you making space for your introverts?

cube land

I love the idea of an open-plan workspace.  No walls, no barriers to communication.  Total synergy, total creativity.  But then there is the reality of an open-plan workspace. Noise. Chaos. People constantly up in my grill. Trying to get something done in this environment drives me absolutely bonkers.

Welcome to the world of the introvert.

Although we often think of the introvert as shy and the extrovert as outgoing, the difference really lies in how individuals manage their energy, how they refuel and recharge. Introverts are most comfortable exploring ideas internally and they recharge by being alone. They live inside their head and they like to think through problems before acting. Extroverts are drawn to activity, interacting with and drawing energy from lots of different people. They learn by doing and enjoy “thinking out loud”.

As a manager, you likely have a mix of introverts and extroverts on your team, and all to varying degrees. And you probably don’t have a lot of design control as far as office architecture goes. (If you do, you can create an environment like this.) But there are many ways to insure that your introverts have the space they need, both physically and mentally.

Allow individual or small group projects. Introverts aren’t sociopaths; they like people. But they may find working with large groups draining. Working in smaller groups will allow them to be at their best.

Utilize a variety of meeting formats. Introverts prefer the structure of presentations and formal meetings, where the conversational flow is controlled.  The free-for-all of traditional brainstorming sessions can be frustrating for introverts.  They also like to have a planSo utilize calendars, create agendas and allow time for preparation.

Let them speak. If you’re an extrovert, make sure you’re allowing an introvert to participate in the conversation. They think before speaking, so curb your need to jump in until they’ve had time to contribute. Schedule plenty of one-on-ones and include discussion of ideas, not just tasks and projects.

Respect the cube. When people are in their cubes, treat it as a no-fly zone. As an introvert, I despise the “drop-by”. At home, nothing sets me on edge more than an unannounced visit, when I’m in the middle of a project, my hair is a mess and toys are strewn everywhere. It’s the same in the workplace. Call first. (And we’ll screen you. But get over it.)

Allow and encourage use of headphones. If you have an open-plan layout, headphones are the universal “Do Not Disturb” sign.

Acknowledge that inspiration and creativity don’t only happen in high-stimulation environments.
We tend to idealize these types of environments in modern workplaces, the same way we idealize the extrovert as the creative leader. Introverts are great information processors and excel at connecting ideas. They just need some low-stimulation space to do it in.

 

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Assessing your organizational culture? Start by looking around.

 

(Photo by Sonny Abesamis via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Assessing your organizational culture? Start by looking around.

doughnut

Observing the office around you can be quite telling. Try these prompts to get you started.

Picture your staff’s individual workstations. What do they all have in common?
Is every desk covered in personal photos and other mementos? Techie toys and gadgets? Or is it all neat, tidy and nothing but business?

It’s lunch time on an average weekday. Where are your staff?
Is everyone out grabbing a bite together? Meeting in a conference room for a brown bag learning session? Or are they all hunched over a Cup-O-Noodles at their desks?

It’s 5:30 pm on a Friday. Where are your staff?
Did everyone go their separate ways at 5:00 on the dot? Maybe they’re all at the corner bar for some team karaoke? Or are they still at their desks, with miles to go before they sleep?

(Photo by yoppy via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)