We fall into the “no walls” structure like most starts-ups choose when creating a workspace. It has its share of collaboration bonuses when working on a small team. Yet Jason Feifer of Fast Company would probably disagree with our office set up. In his article, Feifer talks about the negatives of the open concept plan, explaining how that office layout affects productivity, workforce and social interactions and the distractions that come with it.
We recently had an open house which required us to move furniture for the event space, people, booze – you get the idea. Every time we consider moving a desk or getting some new piece of furniture, the idea of rearranging our space to be more efficient comes up. Yet we default to a layout that keeps us out in an open space with room to wheel around.
To Feifer’s point about open concept offices, the distractions can often be just that distracting. However, Valkre is not one for offices; even our CEO sits out in the steno pool with the developers and services guys. We have offices but we don’t use them as personal offices. They’re used primarily for brainstorming or making phone calls with customers or significant others, and being on hold with Ventra. Now before you go losing your red Swingline staplers, or the single pair of scissors we have at the Valkre office, our developers have a different point of view towards the open concept.
Technology is the ruler of the office, not the space around you. Google Talk can be more of a distraction than a wild Michael Cardinale appearing over your shoulder. Amongst the funny gifs and complaints, developers get most of our work done in silence and effectively without walls. If you have not seen the Valkre office, our developers like it quiet and dark, especially when a deadline approaches or testing week. But you’ll often hear an uproar of comments and banter. Once the ear buds come out, the distractions (Nerf guns, remote control helicopters, and all) become full blown, and it is a welcomed change to the silent droning of keyboard clicks whispered swears from frustrated devs. Like Feifer’s Friday whiskey parties, we too will get rowdy but then again who wants to be left out of that.
Our office may change the layout if we need to, but like most start-ups, Valkre can work in an open setting. Without it, we could not talk about the latest Walking Dead or anticipated Game of Thrones episode...oh, and collaborate on the next customer solution.