Walled In or Walled Out

Would you refuse an office of one’s own?

For the past 7 years I have been a junior burger working in banking. I’ve sat among the masses in open plan offices and in more recent times I’ve been subject to hot-desking. To be honest, apart from the odd colleague who talks far too loudly on the phone, so you know every intricate detail of their working and personal lives, I’ve (mostly) enjoyed it. I’ve known no other.

But it changed when I was offered an office of my own.

Quick backstory. I’m working at a HrTech startup, Roubler. The founder, Andrew is a good man and a serial (successful) entrepreneur, who has his enterprises collocated.

If one is to walk into these offices and is being particularly observant you would notice that all the occupants in these offices are males.

So what? Well it’s representative of the problem that I like many have silently worked hard to fix. That is, I have chosen not to sit there and whinge about the lack of women in senior leadership positions, but instead put my hand up to work in areas of banking where there are vey few women to break the stereotype. Then, jump ship and move into technology where we know there is an even bigger gender imbalance.

“Just 5 percent of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.” — @Swatipedi, TechCrunch, May 2016.

So why did I refuse an offer that was a status symbol? Well I didn’t, instead I have ignored it. Currently my office is filled with boxes, and other peoples crap. But that’s ok because it means no one likes to go in there and on occasion I go in, shut the door, sit on the floor lay it all out in front of me and get my head straight. I’ve even hidden behind some of the boxes and turned my thoughts upside down whilst in the yoga pose downward dog.

But it’s long way off from accepting the offer. The truth is I don’t know what to do. When my ego is screaming for it (and it does, especially when men talk over me in meetings) I know then that I making the wrong decision. My yoga teacher training taught me ego is one of the most self destructive means of a persons character or abilities.

Then on the flip side, I ask myself by accepting the offer am I symbolically showing other women in the open plan space I work in, that they too can confidently fight their good fight by outperforming in their fields and be rewarded for their efforts?

I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer and the truth is, I’d love your thoughts. Would you accept or refuse an office of your own?

Note the issue of whether one is more productive, collaborative and creative from sitting in an open plan space has been considered. Regular co-worker interruptions, auditory and visual distractions can be a hindrance to being able to produce quality work with speed. However, this is balanced with me also believing that the social interaction, ability to deal into issues as I hear them arise (we’re a startup, many decisions are made in a day), and potentially using that office in another configuration.

Lastly and maybe totally irrelevant, the office in question is not a window suite like all others, but an inside space (no natural light in sight), so it probably should just be used as a storage cupboard, where I can practice my yoga.

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