Originally published as Shared Spaces: Shaking Up The Restoration In-Office Experience
February 24, 2016 by Restoration & Remediation Magazine (R&R)
By Jon Isaacson
Could restoration companies benefit from a non-traditional work space?
I started my career in property restoration in a shared office with myself, my manager and space designated for our crew to meet and interact. At most places I have worked since, the more normative office is laid out in designated segments of isolation. While I don't dismiss the value of personal space and enjoy my privacy as much as anyone, I have found the value of shared spaced and have worked to create open work space in every team that I have supervised.
Shared Space Equals Shared Experiences
When you share an office, you can feel the pulse of the team. You hear your team, even when you are not conversing with them directly, you are hearing their interactions. While there are times when the noise level has to be managed, when you hire people who are respectful they will likely already understand the dynamics of time and place in an open space.
For our teams the benefits of a communal office within our department has far outweighed the perceived negatives. Imposing an open office on people who are not ready for it is a recipe for disaster. Transitioning to a shared space is made much more seamless when you have people who enjoy working together and/or you hire people who understand the culture. Implementing an open office is not of any benefit if it does not reflect your culture or add value to your team.
Open Space Equals Open Communication
Creating a shared space has allowed us to more readily share information at all levels of our department. Having our crew come into our office in the morning creates a natural opportunity to discuss the day's assignments. When the crew returns in the evening, we can debrief and discuss needs for the following day.
These organic connection points throughout the day have increased our interactions at professional and personal levels. Combining our open space with making our workloads visible has helped us to elevate our clarity across our team interactions.
Your office is your second home. Arguably, you spend more time in your work space with your work peeps than with your actual family, so making it an enjoyable and functional environment should be a priority.
When drafting the plan for your work space - whether open, traditional or some other system with a fancy name - think about the following:
For our department, we have hired people who bring value to the team, we have been protective of the culture that we have developed and we have enjoyed the benefits of a shared work space.
In the world of business we constantly hear about return on investment as we like to discuss whether the strategies we are employing are effective at reaching the goals we have set out. What if there were a minimal cost measure that consistently yielded high returns, would you incorporate that item into your organizational systems? Before we dive into the subject matter, take two minutes out of your day to view this video from KollektivetTV2 which may help set the state for how your team members and possibly even yourself feel about how you are valued in your organization:
If you didn't find the video, apologies for wasting your time. Yet, can you empathize with the sentiment even as silly as it may be? How often do we as individuals, as team members, as managers, as leaders and even at home fail to provide sincere compliments for those around us? When was the last time that you received a sincere compliment?
Compliments are low cost and high yield investments in your most valuable assets as a leader, a coach, a parent and/or as a peer. A compliment requires no monetary exchange and yet it can brighten an individuals day, it can motivate them to carry out their work with pride and it can produce positively charged remunerative results throughout an organization. For years we have set aside time at the end of practice for our youth sports teams to have coaches and players compliment something positive that they saw a teammate doing, only recently did we attempt to incorporate this same practice within our work teams.
For some reason as adults this can be awkward, but as individuals begin to think their week through to find something to compliment another team member it brightens the room. Compliments need to be sincere, they need to be specific and to get good at them it may take a little time as many of us are out of practice. Organizations are always discussing effective methods for rewarding employees and these are positive conversations that should be considered in depth, but before the process gets too complicated, don't forget to invest in the simple things - from the top down and from the bottom up, lead by example and let loose with some sincere compliments.
Read more on this topic HERE. Tell us what you have tried and experienced with regards to this topic HERE.
If you have a team, especially a smaller team, there are no secrets – there are only those issues that you take leadership over and discuss with a purpose and those issues that you allow to direct their own lives.
In most offices the walls are paper thin (if you still have walls) and the issues are being discussed like ping pong balls bouncing from surface to surface. As a leader you can be observe from your perch and imagine that you are the referee keeping the game within its imaginary bounds or you can grab a paddle and lead the discussion.
There is safety on the sidelines, but it is only imagined, as those ping pong balls can cause real damages to teams and culture if they are not addressed. Leaders on the sidelines are not leaders, they are observers. Leaders who engage with their paddles will win some and will lose some, but by being present they can reduce negative impacts and even intercede in additional balls being added to the natural chaos of business life. There is no perfect leadership but there is definitely detrimental action/inaction by leaders.
The ping pong balls are flying, its time to paddle up.
Many leaders would proudly boast of their advanced degree received from the Institute of Tired Leadership Open Door-ism. At the suggestion that said leaders do not engage their employees or that they dismiss their team member’s input or feedback, said leaders would pound their fists in outrage and point to the certificate from the ITLOD. Unfortunately for leaders, the open door policy does involves more than leaving your door partially open during business hours and consequently there is more than one way to dismiss another person’s input or feedback, even if you graduated with honors.
Dismissal upon the transmission of input.
The door was open. The employee knocked, confirmed and ventured through (not as open as open would indicate). The employee begins to engage with the leader and the leader A) engages with listening, body language and words or B) dismisses the feedback by the same gestures. Input from employees may not come at times that are of convenience to the receiving party but are always of some level of importance to the transmitting party.
Dismissal following the transmission of input.
The door was open. The employee shared their feedback. The leader made it through the conversation and communicated that the information was received with importance, what will the leader do to follow up with the input received from the team? The leader A) conducts a proper investigation into the information preferred to determine appropriate action or B) dismiss the input by doing nothing to follow up on the feedback received. Employees do not expect leaders to be omniscient, to know everything that is going on, but they do expect leaders to engage when a negative action is brought to the attention of leadership (more on this HERE).
Dismissal of the confirmation of input.
What happens when the leader listens, the leader investigates and then the leader confirms the input received by their employee? If an appropriate response or action is warranted, the test of leadership is now on display – what will the informed leader do? Leaders should not want themselves to be ignorant of issues, this is one of the great values of a truly open door, that employees are willing to share earnest concerns with leadership so that the team can address issues and maintain health should be celebrated. An ignorant leader who becomes informed and yet refuses action displays impotence. Why should employees care enough to make positive changes when leadership has demonstrated that it is not valued by them?
Leadership is an extension of customer service within your organization. When leaders demonstrate care and service to their employees they perform several key functions including engaging their employees, encouraging positive action and demonstrating how the organization treats people. A healthy organizational culture is an extension of the positive example of leaders who are engaged in the processes of the team and the activities of employees who reinforce those values to each other as well as their customers.
Earnest input and feedback from team members at every layer within the organization is critical to progress and growth. A company with no input from team members either has employees that do not care or employees who have concluded from the actions (dismissal) of management that leadership does not care.
Jon Isaacson. Green belt in the puzzle art of business. Helping people clarify their vision, optimize productivity & follow through w/ creative solutions #MTWSL
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