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Our Crazy, Loud, Wonderful Office

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One of the pictures we bought keeps falling off the wall. We’ve been unpacking for two months and there are still boxes strewn about. The walls don’t go up high enough so we can hear EVERYTHING that EVERYONE IS SAYING.

And we are all thrilled.

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After about a year and a half of saving a lot of money by working out of our homes, the folks at Greenroom made a huge leap this summer and moved into a loft office in the Glenwood South district of Downtown Raleigh.  It has its share of charm: huge bay windows and natural light, and a cargo train track that eases by a couple times a day. We made an investment to add some offices upstairs, but for the most part, it is an open floor plan.  Extremely open.

In the first couple months, I’ve already learned quite a bit about starting an office, and thought I’d share a few findings in this blog :

 

1. GET SOMEONE TO HELP YOU WITH THE LAYOUT

I resisted this, heavily, at first. I figured between me and my two very stylish female partners, we would be able to figure out how to put desks by a wall.  I didn’t want to outsource anything else since we’d just dumped a lot of cash into the upfit.   But after my first attempt at setting up desks, it felt really flunky.
Enter Gillian, a friend of ours who specializes in making the most out of what you’ve got, and adding a few important accents.  She came in just started moving crap around.  Instantly it looked better, making me realize maybe this wasn’t such an awful idea.  Then she suggested making a 2k investment on carpet tiles.
I threw a fit. Like a 5-year-old who just got an IPad taken away from him.
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!”
Luckily I have two partners who are more mature than I am and who calmly overruled and authorized it.  Those tiles are now easily my favorite part of the office.
greenroom communications open layout office carpet tiles

 

2. GET A “NEGATIVE NANCY JAR”

Something you learn very quickly when moving into an office with co-workers : Your energy has a direct effect on everyone around you.  This is something that doesn’t always happen when everyone is working from home and the only interaction is Google Hangouts and conference calls.  When you are all together, tone becomes so much more important.

We work with clients. We love our clients.  But sometimes we disagree with our clients.  And sometimes those disagreements can lead to, well, smack talking.  We quickly learned that too much of this leads to a catty environment.  So we invented “The Negative Nancy Jar.”  Every time you get catty, you put a dollar in… There are some times you can’t help it. Our jar is slowly filling up.  But we feel like this jar has encouraged our team to find more positive, constructive ways to deal with client issues.  So far so good.

negative nancy jar at the office

3. FIND A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN OPEN AND CLOSED.

We are still working on this.  Depending on what kind of company you run, you need varying levels of privacy.  For us, we need some, but we also really need open spaces where a free exchange of ideas is integral to creativity.  So there needs to be places that allow both.  Right now we are a little heavy on the creative space, and need more privacy.  Probably something we should have considered more closely in the design (where we only put the walls up 8 feet on a 12 foot ceiling in an office with very little acoustical deadeners).  Oh well….

open-space-office greenroom communications

4. GET READY TO LEARN A LOT MORE ABOUT YOUR COWORKERS

It’s amazing what you can get away with in a home office.  When Kim went out of town last year I spent 4 days editing in my bathrobe, didn’t shave, showered I think once, ordered 51 pizzas, didn’t clean up after myself until about an hour before she got home.  Different ballgame in an office.  This is a good thing.  To run a successful company, you really need to know your team members, and you learn more about their energy, their strengths and weaknesses when you share a space.

learn-about-coworkers-open-floorplan-office

5. TALK TO EACH OTHER!

There is this paradigm of the American Office – Keep your head down, concentrate, get your work done, don’t draw too much attention to yourself.  I get it.  You have work to do and you don’t want to be distracted.  You were hired because you were the best person at this job and no one else needs to hear about what you are doing.
Is that really the best way to get work done? We are starting to slowly question that at Greenroom.  We all want our work to be an A+, and sometimes we get halfway through a project and realize that it’s a B-, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.  We are learning that when that happens, IT’S TIME TO SPEAK UP.  Gather the team at the conference table, or on the couches, and TALK THROUGH IT.  It may end up taking more time to get the project done, but with all these other great minds around you, there’s always a way to make your work better.  This has been my favorite revelation about an office.
I’m sure in 6 months I will have a completely different perspective on this, (maybe I will have been evicted for being too loud and someone else will be writing it).  But for now, it’s been an amazing learning experience, and, quite frankly, a blast.
What do you think of the office (and the advice)? Reach out to us – we would love your opinion.
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