At Uptown Studios, we try to turn a lot of the common workplace organizational norms on its head. We don’t have bosses or titles. We don’t have time clocks. And we operate in an open workspace. Our office is a converted warehouse with one small conference room and no other “rooms.” Our desks have wheels so we can roll them into storage for events.
While this way of working is certainly unique, it can present lots of challenges. If your contemplating converting your space into an open environment or joining a team of people who work that way, here are the pros and cons.
Everyone tends to work together more when they overhear a conversation about a project or can “screen-drop” onto someone else’s monitor. It’s hard to work solo when you can never truly get away from the team.
If you’re upset about an unhappy client, not sure how to solve a problem, or feeling the weight of your work, you can easily lean on a co-worker for advice or support.
When you really think about it, your coworkers are the people you spend most of your time with. Sometimes more than your family! With eight hours a day to get to know someone, you get close whether you like it or not. In our experience, those relationships have been positive. When you know a lot about your coworkers its easier and more fun to do projects with them.
Creative block preventers
Group brainstorms are easy to drum up with an open workspace. You can just invite whoever wants to throw out ideas to the table. In a smaller setting, you can roll up to one person and have a quick one on one brainstorm.
Get questions answered quickly
After several minutes of research, you’re pretty sure your coworker knows the answer. A quick, “Hey! I have a question.” is an easy remedy to anything from IT woes to accounting.
If you’re stuck on something, you can talk about it with one person. Everyone is nearby and can hear (which is easy to forget!) They may chime in and by the end of it, you have double the ideas.
A funny joke or meme between two people can now be shared all around the room.
It’s loud and hard to concentrate
It may encourage teamwork to hear all conversation but it can definitely be distracting. When 3+ people are talking about a project it can be hard to proofread or review changes, keep your train of thought, or really get into a deep-focus workflow in an open workspace.
Because its easy to go up to someone, it can invite frequent interruptions. Finding the balance between saying no and stopping what your doing can be hard. Especially when you need to communicate how you prefer to be interrupted to a well-meaning coworker.
Lack of privacy
Having personal problems is a part of being human. But being surrounded by people in an open workspace on a bad day might not be the best thing for you all the time. It’s hard to face the group if you’re going through a tough time, upset about something, or not feeling very talkative that day.
Sharing phones, showing each other how to execute a cool photoshop trick, and being in close proximity can make sickness easily spreadable. (It’s also easy to identify patient zero!) Combatting germs during flu season is pretty much impossible. But, like any space, we just make sure to wash our hands!