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Open Plan Productivity
Soul Searching

The Introvert’s Nightmare – Open Plan

In my first job out of college, as an intern, I had an office with four walls and a door. Lowest person on the totem pole, yet I still had a door I could close. I went to the office every day to do my work, because that’s where work happened. There was no laptop to take home, no email to catch up on in the evening, no access to everything from anywhere on a computer that fits in my pocket. Work, not just meetings, but productive, deep thinking work, got done at work. This was my experience for most of my early career.

And then I had a cubicle.

My early experiences with cubicles weren’t bad. I had an assigned cube with my name plate on the side and full height partitions on which I could pin mementos. While not an office, it was a space I could call my own with a modicum of privacy. I now had laptops and Blackberries that made me accessible and on-call, but work still got done at work.

And then I had a hot desk in an open plan office.

Open plan offices are exactly what they sound like. They are big open spaces full of long tables with phones, power, and network jacks and few, if any, offices. It’s like turning up at a dinner party with fifty or so of your closest friends, taking any open seat at the table, and then trying to enjoy a nice quiet meal while the group seated next to you has a loud and heated debate over the plausibility of lightsabers. Open plan is great for impromptu meetings and networking with colleagues. But today, if I have deep thinking work to do, projects or plans that need my attention and focus, the office is one of the last places I’d want to go. For introverts like myself, these environments, which cater to extroverts, are a special kind of hell. I’m not alone in thinking that open plan has destroyed the workplace. All of the sudden, work doesn’t get done at work anymore.

Why Work Doesn’t Get Done At Work.

Thankfully, over my 20-year career, I’ve also witnessed a revolution in the way people work. The ubiquity of the Internet and mobile access to everything from everywhere means that I know almost no one who works every day, 9-5, in an office anymore. Working from home, working on the train, working from Starbucks, these are the norm. And, especially as a working parent, I value the flexibility this new way of working provides. In isolation, the shift toward open plan is a death sentence to workplace productivity and a license to get the biggest noise cancelling headphones one can afford. It’s only when employers embrace the mobile, flexible working revolution in parallel (as has been my experience) that the system makes sense. I leverage the open plan office for its strengths, meetings and networking. Uninterrupted time working on projects happens elsewhere.

So despite all its flaws, would I trade my open plan office and flexible working for an office with a door and the expectation I’m behind it every day? Nope.

I’ll stick with open plan and a flexible schedule that allows me to make sure all the puzzle pieces of my life fit together. I’ll gladly keep turning up at the dinner table and join in the conversation, offering my own opinions about the existence of lightsabers.


Autumn Morning
Soul Searching

Everyday Moments: Autumn

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. The changing season is a feast for the senses, full of pumpkin, apples, spices, and a kaleidoscope of color painting the landscape.

This year, however, I feel like the wonders of Autumn have come and gone and I’ve barely noticed. September and October have been full to the brim of DOING ALL THE THINGS. There have been birthday parties to plan, school to start, marathons to run (my long overdue Berlin race diary on the way), houses to move, and family illness to manage. It’s taken all the strength I have just to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not go flying off the back of the treadmill.

So when it came to finding photos of Autumn to share for this month’s Everyday Moments circle, I didn’t have any. My camera and I have become strangers in desperate need of some couples counselling.

But as the seasons begin to change again, the frenzy of Autumn has left me with a new space. Now, I can gaze into the winter mist as the sun rises over my new back garden. And I can sip my morning coffee and just breathe.


Please follow our circle around to see what Laura captured this Autumn. I’m sure it’s lovely, she has an amazing eye.

Everyday Adventures, Soul Searching

Everyday Moments: Reflections

“We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay—and rise!”

~ Maya Angelou ~


Please follow the circle around to see what Laura is reflecting on this month.

Soul Searching

Pieces of Me

This morning I smell of disinfectant.
This morning I’ve scrubbed my skin so hard it’s raw and red.
This morning I am hungry, my last meal a distant memory.
This morning by body is drained and depleted.
This afternoon there will be one less piece of me.

But, this morning there is a bright blue sky.
This morning is crisp and cool and clear, a new season.
This morning I am hopeful.
This morning I am ready, ready to move forward.
This afternoon there will be one less piece of me.

Everyday Adventures, Soul Searching

Sometimes You’ve Got to Plant a Few Seeds

A couple of months ago, the little man and I planted some sunflower seeds as a springtime project.  And with my brown thumb, I had every expectation that those little seeds we pushed into the compost would never see the light of day.  Their little clay pots got stuffed inside our shed where they did at least have a bit of shelter and sun.

I’d all but forgotten about them and then one day stepped into the shed to break out the lawnmower and to my great surprise, those things had sprouted like wildfire.  They quickly outgrew their tiny clay pots and we moved them into a big pot, one I felt sure they’d have plenty of breathing space in.

And they did.  Until now.  Now they are taller than my child and propped up with sticks trying desperately not to fall over.  They beg for a new even bigger pot and maybe even a small tree branch to keep them upright. Now we’re just wondering if any flowers will ever materialize.  If only it would stop raining and they could actually get, well, some sun.  I assume sunflowers like that.

All this interestingness sprouted from just a few tiny seeds.

Makes you wonder what we’re all capable of growing if we just take the time to sow a few seeds.

This post is part of a weekly photography challenge I’ve been doing (well, most weeks…) 52 Photos.