Tearing down walls

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Do you know why I enjoy working from home or remotely? I’m not confined to my cube! Everyday 60 percent of Americans go to work and spend eight hours in a box. It shouldn’t come as a big shock that 93 percent of workers despise cubicles according to Yahoo! Finance. Nikal Saval, author of the book “Cubed” says the cubicle, “connotes dread, hatred, the terrible white collar life.”

I can’t say I completely agree with Nikal’s sentiments. I do, however, think spending a long amount of time in any confined space will take its toll on everyone, no matter their mental fortitude. That’s why this week the communications team at TDS Telecom said bye, bye to the walls that divide us and so far so good.

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However, like most things there are positives and negatives. Let’s start with the good.

THE GOOD

More light
The communications team at TDS is pretty lucky. Our cubes are near windows. So we do get some natural light (not that you see the sun a lot in January in Wisconsin). But before the walls came down it could feel a bit drab. Just about everyone on the team agrees that things feel, “lighter” and more “airy.”

Better communication
The nice thing about having the walls down is we no longer have to get up to ask teammates questions or verify information. We can just ask from our work stations.

Increased collaboration
It’s only been one week, but I would say we’re already collaborating more. Here’s a good example. Thursday morning I was drafting a message to share with our followers on Twitter and Facebook and I wanted to get some feedback. Instead of getting up and gathering people or calling everyone over to my cube I just asked for help and read what I had aloud. Boom¬––instant feedback.

More efficient conversations
Despite the fact that cubicles don’t have ceilings or doors people still think they offer privacy (Tip: Cubicles offer very little to no privacy. They only give the illusion of privacy. Everyone can still hear your conversation and every single keystroke.). When people think they’re in private they tend to gab just a little bit longer. But when it’s evident your conversation can, and most likely will be overheard, people tend wrap things up a bit faster, and in some cases, just hold off on that conversation all together.

Getting reactions from people who walk by
Am I weird for finding this slightly amusing? Maybe. Our new working arrangement is quite the conversation starter. Just about everyone who walks past our new space stops to comment. The overwhelming majority of people say there’s no way they could work in a similar environment. That sentiment is normally followed by questions about our sanity.

THE BAD

Talking to one of us means you’re talking to all of us
It’s rare, but on occasion, someone does come to our area to speak to someone other than me. Well, at least they used to. Now, if you come to hold a conversation with one person on the team you ultimately end up having a conversation with all of us. Why? I’m not exactly sure just yet. I can tell you that almost every time someone has swung by to talk with one member of the team they’ve ended up talking to the whole team.

More light
I know I listed this as a positive, but if I’m being honest I’m just not a big fan of the outdoors. The reasons for my strong dislike of the great outdoors are vast (I’m afraid of bears and they live outside so I stay inside. Actually it may really just be because of bears.).

Accidental staring contests
P1020262 With no walls to separate my coworker Rhonda Hilmershausen and I, we frequently find ourselves engaged in accidental staring contest. This happens several times per day and I always win!

So what do you think? Have you tried a radical change to your work environment? Have you torn down the walls? What was the result? Leave your thoughts in the comments section. Oh and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog.

About Barclay Pollak

Barclay Pollak is an award winning journalist and proud to be a member of the Corporate Communications team at TDS Telecommunications Corp. (TDS®) in Madison, Wis. Barclay joined the team in April of 2013. Before that Barclay worked as an Anchor/ Reporter for the NBC affiliate in Madison. While at NBC-15 Barclay was recognized by several organizations for his contributions to the television news industry. They include the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association (Edward R. Murrow Regional Award) and the Chicago/Midwest National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (2012 Emmy Nominee). When he’s not working Barclay enjoys cheering for all the sports teams in Wisconsin. Barclay’s a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus and a huge fan of Badger athletics. Barclay is fascinated by the ever changing world of technology and spends a fair amount of his free time reading about the latest and greatest developments online. When Barclay’s not learning about technology he’s scouring the Internet in search of freeware. Barclay has an 8-year-old daughter and lives with his girlfriend of almost five years on Madison’s southwest side. Follow on G+.

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5 Responses to Tearing down walls

  1. Kathy Mangan January 27, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    I worked in an environment with no cubes, and being on a main hallway was difficult as you could get easily distracted. The staring contest was the main thing between neighbors. Depending if you could hide your next door neighbor’s head by positioning your monitor, it could be annoying for your neighbor for you to be looking at your monitor but still seem to be staring at him. And or watching him be sick with a head cold. It became easier when I invested in some noise reduction head phones.

  2. Dharma Singh January 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    Someone forgot about the Lions and Tigers. Oh My!

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