Changing climate and culture in our new open office space
When I interviewed for my current position with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund back in October I was asked by my future co-workers if I was able to embrace change. Change? Sure! Bring it on.
The change they were referring to was our plan to move offices into the new Jessie Ball DuPont Center in April 2015. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund had previously rented traditional office space where our staff of 12 was dispersed between private offices and cubicles. Since our inception six years ago we had managed to cram every file cabinet, shelf and corner of our small office with stuff: old files, journals, scholarly articles, binders, promotional materials, etc. Our individual desks were filled with paperwork, office supplies and personal items ranging from family pictures to bobble-heads.
The thought of the physical move alone was daunting but along with the physical move we were also planning for a significant culture shift in the way we worked.
Our new office space is an open and flexible workspace designed to further energize our existing collaborative environment. With the exception of our Executive Assistant who greets visitors up front, no one has an assigned office or desk — not even our President. No more desks or corners to gather our old stuff! The idea was modeled after the Mayo Clinic’s administrative offices, and staff paid a visit to them last year to see how it all worked.
We recognized the initial transformation would be a challenge but collectively we chose to embrace the change.
Planning and communication was key to our success. After researching best practices on transitioning to open office spaces, our staff led four “Office Move Roundtables” where we worked together to align our new work space with our organizational culture.
Using our architectural building plans as our guide, we defined the different flexible spaces available and how we planned to use each space to its fullest potential. We acknowledged common pitfalls to this office layout and addressed individual’s specific concerns in a positive and productive way. We developed our own guidelines. Our office planning efforts concluded with an organization-wide scavenger hunt in our new downtown neighborhood, introducing ourselves to the local restaurants and shops.
As we completed the move into our new space last week it was clear our hard work was paying off. And we are all looking forward to the post-move in work we have ahead of us to ensure the space continues to enhance the organizational culture we are all so proud of. We want our new space to remain dynamic and be able to embrace change- just like the individuals who occupy it.
Culture happens — why not create an office culture you love?