When I first took the job at Gateway six years ago, a reference told me that one of the “negatives” about Gateway was the office space. There just wasn’t enough. Many years later, we’re an even larger staff with the same amount of space. About a year ago, a decision was made to radically transform the offices. The idea was to transition to a highly collaborative office space. The private offices on the perimeter of the building would be shared or even general office space for meetings and the cube farm in the middle would be divided up into larger working spaces with couches and tables.
I was one of those lucky few who had a private office. It wasn’t a big office, but I could close the door and be in my own world all day. However, when I heard about the transition, I put my finger on the largest space and said, “Can I have half of this room, I want to bring my entire team together?” I was given the space simply because I had one of the largest teams and frankly, no one else wanted to be in that area. I’ve seen other organizations with similar office settings and I liked what they did. I spend the time on the phone with others who officed in shared work space and learned the pros and the cons. When I announced the plan to my team, they were less than enthused. However, I was done having a team physically divided. I had 4-6 staff divided by 3-4 rooms in two different buildings. We were not a team that really worked together and I wanted to change that and I believed that our office space was a big part of it.
We’ve been in our new office area for 9 months. We have two big couches (they’re orange) and two comfortable arm chairs. We have two ottomans and a giant (like 15-20 feet long) conference table. My whole team sits at the conference table every day. Chris, who blogged about sitting at the table was very skeptical. However, everyone on the team today would tell you that we have one of the best team environments in the church. It’s highly collaborative and we LOVE being together. There’s incredible staff unity, we’re all in each other’s business and getting things done has been so much easier. Yes, there are many distractions, but we’re more productive than we’ve ever been.
I think the office situation works because we don’t always sit at the table. I spend 3-5 hours most mornings offsite where I can concentrate and get things done. Others do the same or frequently zip in and out for various meetings. We frequently pop in the earbuds to cancel out the distractions and focus on the work at hand. Regardless, I think we stumbled on a great opportunity. An office transition out of necessity became a great opportunity for team unity and improved productivity.
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