Maybe you need a room

Last year, something surprising happened when I shifted from an open desk to working in my own room.

“Modern” thinking says that a leader who sits in the open is an approachable leader, and a leader that sits in a room is an unapproachable one.

But since moving into a room, I have had more meaningful conversations with our people. Big problems were resolved faster and communication became more transparent.

Why is that?

In the past, when I was sitting in the open, many people found it difficult to have deep conversations, because they found it awkward to shift to a room to speak privately. Others would start to wonder what the conversation was about.

Now that I am already in a room, they can walk in at any time, and jump into deep and transparent conversations immediately.

Therefore I don’t think it’s about whether we can judge whether a leader is approachable or not based on whether they sit in the open or in a room. All this is superficial.

It’s about the leaders’ actual personality. An unapproachable leader who sits in the open will remain unapproachable. There are many who sit in the open and say they are approachable but employees don’t feel welcomed when speaking to them.

So if you are approachable, perhaps working in a room actually helps your employees communicate better with you.

Something for companies who want to adopt open cultures to think about. Don’t do something because other companies are doing it.

Have to consider whether it will actually work for your culture and leaders personality.