Discussions & Demos

Are You Working in an Open Workplace?

workplace culture Mar 29, 2021

In the first article of this six-part series we introduced the four workplace cultures: Defensive, Paternalistic, Open, and Collaborative.  In this fourth installment, we'll paint a sketch of the Open workplace.

In an Open workplace chaos abounds, and is characteristic of many start ups. Here are some hallmarks of the Open workplace:

  • The organization is flat, not hierarchical.
  • The company mantra is, “We have nothing to hide!”
  • Problems and ideas are shared freely; open disagreement is encouraged.
  • People at all levels are free to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Information flows everywhere, from multiple channels.
  • Calendars overflow with meetings.
  • Task forces and cross-functional groups are everywhere.
  • Tear down the walls! This is a cubical-free zone.
  • Employee involvement, activity, and energy-levels around the company are high.
  • So many people are involved in decision-making, sometimes no decisions are made.
  • People work long hours to keep their heads above water, because ideas never sleep.
  • There's abrupt abandonment of current projects, and hasty adoption of new ones.
  • Every day is baptism by fire.

The Open workplace culture can be cutting edge and exciting, but this fire hose approach to running a business is a recipe for employee burnout. There is insufficient structure or processes in place to keep people from losing direction, and people never know what to expect.

Every team needs a playbook to clearly outline their goals and the key maneuvers needed to achieve them. A playbook:

  • Creates clarity and focus
  • Puts the future in your control
  • Creates a filter for decision making, resource allocation, and evaluating new opportunities
  • Helps you out-think the competition
  • Creates a common platform for change
  • Keeps you on track


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