Minding Our Physical Space

Cube-landCulture: Cube-land requested by the CFO (Chief Facilities Officer) to ensure that managers can walk around developers and can observe work in progress. Developers had no walls surrounding their desk space, meaning there was no wall space to hang big-visible displays of how the product was coming together. The existing cubicles had walls 1 foot higher than the tables, team members were complaining about constant interruptions. Each cubicle was surrounded by a “patrol hall” where anyone could walk by (and interrupt work in progress.) The ultimate design reminded us of a prison architecture called  “Panopticon.”

The CFO’s floor space design was such planned so that “no high walls can surround the workers so that in the center of the building where the managers are, natural sunlight would still be present” (although they lived in offices with closed doors in the center of the floor!)

The crack: Altering, by any method possible, of the floor plans made by the CFO was not allowed. Period. No requests were honored.

The art: The contracting agency had “unused wall scraps” in pile on the lab floor of various colors, whereby if assembled could creating a wall collage of various sizes and colors.

The hack: The whole team came in at midnight and assembled the wall scraps, creating a collage of high walls surrounding the team and including the “patrol hall” space. We decorated the area as if it had been like that for years versus just put up over night. We were able to create an open workspace where within our area we could work or play uninterrupted.

The result: The CFO complained to the director of R&D to “put the office back the way it was.” The R&D director said to the CFO: “if you can put it back overnight go for it, if you have to take a work day to do it, forget it.” As for if it was a success or not: definitely for this team.

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