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The Open Door Policy

The Open Door Policy

Sharlyn Lauby | HR Bartender

June 23, 2010

Seth Godin’s wrote a great post titled “Goodbye to the Office”, challenging conventional thought about the traditional office environment. I can certainly see his point. It’s one of the reasons I’m writing at Workshifting blog and am involved in social media. The development of the freelance economy along with the technology tools at our fingertips could make the traditional office obsolete.

But eliminating offices is about more than just not renewing a lease. In order to be successful, it’s about training managers how to engage and manage a virtual workforce. And it’s about employees being accountable and managing themselves. Until those things start becoming a major part of the equation, my prediction is the office will still be around.

Not because we need the office space, but because we don’t know how to operate without it.

Anyhoo, Seth’s post reminded me of my previous offices. My first office was a cubicle assigned to me when it’s previous occupant employee was downsized. It was such an uncomfortable feeling — on one hand, I was excited to have my first office and on the other was the guilt and paranoia of how the office came to be mine. Even though I didn’t have anything to do with the person leaving.

After that, I didn’t give offices much thought. I just always assumed I would have an office.

Then I went to work for a company where offices were where “good news happened.” Conference rooms were where people got fired. You can imagine the reaction I got when I once suggested have a working lunch in the conference room. Someone kindly took me aside and explained that we don’t have meetings in the conference room. That’s where employees are disciplined. Lucky for me, the HR team was willing to help me give the conference room a public relations campaign. We started holding our meetings in there and eventually turned the perception around.

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