I’ve recently started working at a fantastic new start-up company. I realised that, after not working in an office environment in over 10 years, that things have changed. And I am thoroughly enjoying the adventure.
I consider myself an organised person, a lover of people, and someone who enjoys learning, even if it’s a challenge.
My role, as the office manager, gives me the opportunity to apply all my talents. For this, I am very lucky.
But, here’s the thing… there are definitely new work behaviours, and yes, etiquette, to learn. It’s a minefield, and if you get it wrong, it can have a lot of humourous or embarrassing consequences.
My very first day, I had to learn how to work in an open seating plan environment.
A friend who works as in-house counsel to Microsoft, and they had moved too, to an open plan working environment. He found it very challenging to take sensitive phone calls, with so many people, and ears, around him. Suffice it to say, they reverted to private offices for those positions in key, and sensitive, roles.
I, on the other hand, sit inthe heart of the office. I am surrounded by talented professionals, each bringing their own expertise to a growing company. Communication is possibly the key tool that each person must master to make sure that the work flow assists the company’s growth. Herein lies the challenge. How do you communicate, if 40 people are in the same room, at the same time. Yes, you guessed it, online.
My first day, I was sitting at my desk, when my computer pinged a skype message. I was surprised to see that the girl sitting right beside me had sent me a message. Yes, right next to me.
My immediate reaction was to answer her, so I looked over at her, and waited for her to look back at me. This did not happen. She continued busily working on what she was doing. I waited, a polite moment or two, to see if she would look back at me. But to no avail.
So, I gently spoke her name, at which time, she turned her head, and met my eyes, and I replied to her question, and said a few pleasantries.
I, quickly understood, that disrupting a person’s workflow was a no-no. The company memo read;
-for urgent communication, that requires a response within the hour, use Skype
-for communication that is less urgent, send an email
-avoid disrupting an individual who is busy working”
This happened to me several times in my first month. It still happens now, but less often. I have learnt that my workflow is also valuable to the company, and my colleagues also send me messages.
Communication… skype, then slack. What ever happened to making eye contact with each other, talking with words, sounds, and facial expression. I think a lot more can be said when you look at my face, than when I text you. Just saying