Saturday, December 31, 2005

Communal workspaces.

Influx Insights – via Ad Pulp – points to a new trend towards communal tables in restaraunts. They also mention the work bench approach that some companies in the UK have embraced, including some of that country's leading agencies.

Here at Black Lab Five, our office space is basically one large room. Meetings take place at the conference table while other people work on projects. The phones are answered by whomever is closest. Instead of emailing something, we actually talk to each other.

I would love to say that our open plan was due to some high brow workplace design ethic, but the reality is that we were a startup and the space was dirt cheap. But being forced to embrace the open plan has actually led me to believe in its value.

Previously, I believed that offices and private spaces were essential to the creative process. Now I've come to think they are simply barriers that slow down the exchange of information and ideas. In fact, after initially positioning our desks as far away as possible in our space, we recently decided to push them together and truly embrace the workbench concept. So far, we've been amazed by how much more quickly things happen when we don't have to get our asses out of a chair, out a door, down a hall and through another door.

Oh, sure, there are challenges. When you call for an appointment with your physician, for instance, the nurse often asks where the pain is emanating from – and the answer is not always "the ankle." An especially gassy inhabitant can cause the morale of the entire operation to dip. And certain web sites with sudden bursts of audio can be instantly incriminating.

Small fees, however, in return for enhanced communications.


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