Tuesday, November 19, 2013

transparency

I'm back at headquarters for a week and then I'll be over at another site.  I like returning to the office because I am starting to get to know other people around the office.  I am fond of my team but we are one of the smallest teams in the office and half of us are away at various sites so we don't have many opportunities to interact.  I am sometimes wistful when I see some of the thirty person work groups having beers together in the corner of the office but I like my directer too much to want to move to another group.

I also like the office a lot.  At first I wasn't too keen on the open office concept; you cannot have truly private conversations and sometimes the noise from others is distracting. Now that I have been at the firm for several months I have come to realize that as far as my profession is concerned, this open office layout has many benefits.  If I am not mistaken, IDEO was one of the drivers for other design firms taking up the open office layout and adopting a similar organizational structure. I have discovered that while I don't enjoy having the rest of the office hear me blundering through a phone call or arguing with my boss, being party to discussions going on around me means that I know what is going on in projects that I will most likely be asked to contribute to in the future. I have learned how to tune out conversations that don't interest me. Also, once I got over the whole pride issue of knowing that others could hear my conversations, I discovered that similar to how I have learned from listening to others, there are others who are learning from me. Recently a colleague from across the office needed advice on fulfilling a statutory requirement and was directed my way by another colleague who recalled a rousing (i.e. loud) conversation that I had with my boss. Likewise, I have noted which people around the office have expertise in various fields that will be helpful to me in the future.

At my last job, we had a hybrid structure with partial cubicles and it wasn't very successful in my opinion. I suppose this was because our attitudes never changed; we were just cubicle monkeys with the tops of our cubicles lopped off.  Rather than ideas and information being spread throughout the office, we hunkered down in our topless cubicles and conversed in whispers lest our ideas be exposed.  There was a gentleman in another studio who I somehow discovered knew almost every building code by heart.  I used to walk over to his area to ask for advice but after feeling self conscious from all the stares that his studio members gave me, I resorted to emailing him.  Looking back, I realize how silly our attitudes were. We were supposed to be one happy company but each studio was hoarding its resources.  Of course, since each studio was responsible for managing its own profit, this meant that we were sometimes competing against each other for projects.

Not everything is sunshine and rainbows at my job but this is the first time since school that I have observed people walking over to others and asking for help or an honest review of their work.  So far I am enjoying the collaboration even if everyone can hear me when I say something dumb.

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