Creative Workspaces Still Need Leaders

The cubicle farm of the late 20th century has been replaced in over 60% of businesses by the open architecture, creative workspace. The idea is that this will lead to increased communication and collaboration of team members, which will drive higher productivity, better customer service and improved financial results.

With the benefit of increased creative workspaces, researchers have something to study. And what they’ve found is that, in many cases, the lack of privacy at any time leads to less productivity and lower employee engagement. And this applies whether the employees are introverts or extroverts.

There are a few issues with the new workplace design that may hinder effectiveness. Noise-canceling headphones allow us to go even deeper into our heads. More importantly, we have a leadership issue that some people with titles don’t care to talk to others.

It seems strange that someone has a big title but is not comfortable speaking to others, but it happens.

A few observations:

Our priorities are where we spend our time, not where we plan to spend it but don’t.

Many leaders believe that their words don’t mean anything to employees.

Some leaders believe that their actions don’t mean anything to employees, especially when it comes to perks that they “deserve” or have “earned.”

Some leaders aren’t curious or stopped being curious when they “made it.”

Some leaders are uncomfortable saying a simple hello to people in an office. This may be due to shyness, an aversion to small talk, the concern that someone may ask them a question for which they have no answer or any of a variety of excuses that lead to avoidance. This behavior results in missed opportunities for connection, learning, aligning, guiding, coaching, and leading.

I encourage you to look at this list and evaluate your leadership in this area. To the extent you believe some improvements are in order, take the next step and find a thought partner or coach to provide you with feedback and an opportunity to increase your skill in this critical area.