By: Amy Soricelli, Assistant Vice President Career Services
and Alumni Relations at Berkeley College
I read an article recently about the pros and cons of “open space seating” vs. the private office. Having lived many years in both and taking away the good and bad from both experiences – I thought it was a good time to weigh in.
My first office job was in a large office. There were 7 of us and we shared three card tables. The card tables were old and if we used our pens too intensely it would simply collapse in defeat. We heard everything each other was saying and since we worked in a research service we often confused our projects if our seat mate was too loud. It was difficult there but I learned how to “smile and dial” -how to talk to people all over the United States and how an organizational chart is created. I learned that I loved recruiting. Stayed five years.
My next job was in a private office in a business school. It was cubicles with walls and if you were tall enough you could stand up and toss a chocolate chip to your neighbor. It was somewhat private yet the proximity to one another encouraged both competition (“are there job orders there and I didn’t know”???) as well as team spirit (“I heard you selling your candidate to ABC company – she might be good for my opening as well..”) We felt close enough to one another to feel “open space-ish” but the walls kept our family photo’s from annoying our neighbors. I stayed thirteen years.
My next job was in a recruiting firm where the “bull pen” environment was very much alive. Oh No! How do I go into a giant room filled with 28+ salespeople and do my thing in front of them? I remember my new employer showing me around and everyone’s face popping up checking out the new girl. “How can I possibly make calls from here? Can I use the conference room all day please?” My new boss smiled at me. She knew. It took about three days before I was jumping from desk to desk feeding off the energy of my co-workers. I learned that it was okay to read a newspaper during lunch and maybe pay some bills. I learned that people love their animals as much as others love their children and before long I could look at a desk mate and know she was coming down with a cold by the way she twirled her hair. My boss also changed our seats every few months. I made many friends and perfected my style by learning from others. I stayed thirteen years.
I now have my own office but I never stay in there very long. I keep my door open so I can hear what my colleagues are saying. Who is making that awesome lunch? Did I hear someone cheer that someone landed a job? I learned a lot from the spaces I worked in and the most important was that teamwork and enthusiasm come from yourself – (with some help from the energy of others) – but your own sense of drive and commitment is what you need to fill your space. Fill it with positive energy and watch what happens!