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How to succeed in an open office

Open office…maybe for some that phrase creates all kinds of bad memories. Or for others it is a place with a lot of energy and an atmosphere that combines work with fun. Whichever side of the spectrum you’re on, it is clear that open offices is all the rage for the last few years. But how new is this concept really?

I originally got introduced to an open office while working with Dabble Lab at the Tampa Bay Wave offices. Even though we had an office ourselves, it still was just one room with 3 desks. And thought the Wave itself there was plenty of open seating if you wanted to change up the surroundings.

Around the same time (in 2015) Facebook finished their new office. It’s open, loud, colorful, and probably very difficult to focus in. Zuk was live-streaming tours, and you had a sense it was a big deal. Even since then I became much more interested about focus work, open office and how to find productive times throughout the day.

Allstate is also transitioning from traditional cubicles to a more open space. We have been working in the new set up in Tampa for almost a year now, but the HQ just transitioned to it. Additionally, I’ve been wanting to do more Lunch&Learns on various topics, so I thought a presentation on open office would be timely.

A while ago I read this article by Jason Fried on how to make an open office work. It was a fantastic read walking you through the layout of Basecamp office and the decisions they made around it. I was inspised to apply a few of those principles to my work, and I used those ideas to suggest the concept to my co-workers.

So, the other day I put together a presentation on “How to succeed in an open office”. I walked through the history of traditional office, how cubicles came to existence, and how the open office concept is not really new.. I make a few suggestions (heavily influenced by Basecamp) on how to make it work and how to protect your time.

If you’re curious, below is the presentation deck I used. Hope you find it interesting!