After 12 years as a manager, I finally have a chance to move out of my cubicle and into a formal office.  Should I take it or not? 

I can think of a dozen reasons why I should stay in my cubicle, and all of them help me to be an effective manager. 

The only reasons I can think of to move into an office is to to gratify my pride and gain the status symbol.  Unless maybe it will raise my standing in the eyes of other managers or executives.  Is that something I should worry about?

Some of the benefits I've leveraged while sitting in a cubicle near my team:

- I can join impromptu conversations among team members, or I can choose not to engage.  I have the option.  If I'm in an office 50 feet away, I will only be involved in discussions that are brought directly to me, or that I initiate myself.  Communication with my team will certainly become more difficult.

- I can observe first-hand the behavior of my directs, and decide what to give feedback on and what to ignore.  If I'm in an office, I will have to depend more on 3rd party input. 

- Providing feedback is much easier when I'm sitting among the rest of the team, and I can make the feedback *seem* more casual.

- I am more immediately aware of emergencies or client situations that need rapid action. 

- Team members seem more willing to approach me, since all they have to do is stand up and look over a half-wall to get my attention.


edcrawfordlv's picture

I'm not sure where your new office will be located, but I'd guess it will be around other managers.

You may want to measure the benefit that you get by being near your team versus the benefit your boss gets by being near his or her team.


croses's picture
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 I would go for the office.

You grow your team as they have to decide if they can handle the situation or have to involve you.

You can accomplish more of the things only you can do. As you avoid the distraction by the things that can be handled on the team level.



mistermike38's picture

I agree with CROSES.  To your question about raising your standing in the eyes of other manager, I think you need not be concerned about this.  Your performance (results) will gain you this respect.  To your point about impromptu conversations you want to join, unless these are conversations that absolutely require your input, it is time that you could spend focusing on other priorities.  If you want to schedule time to come out of your office periodically throughout the day (twice a day) to interact with your team members, this is still feasible.  You can also sit with your team during various times of the day to continue to foster the environment you are looking to maintain.  The office will give you the privacy you need to focus on key performance metrics and it will help reduce interruptions.  CROSES also makes a valid point that you want your team to be independent and not interdependent upon you.  Your office setting will give you the best of both worlds and as I indicated you can still do things that will allow you to interact with your team on a regular basis.



(wishing I has an office instead of a cubicle.) 

BariTony's picture

I was recently moved into an office last year, and had the same concerns. I had good reasons to take an office: weekly O3s, conference calls with clients, budgeting and contract discussions with freelancers, phone interviews, annual reviews. The  fact is that you probably do more things that really should be done in an office than you realize.

Second, MT has recommendations for interacting with your directs even if you're in an office. See, for example, the podcast on the 5-minute morning greeting.

Finally, you probably think that you're more efficient by responding to crises and answering questions by being in a cubicle. Actually, this is one of the point of weekly O3s. To reduce the feeling directs have that they need to constantly ask you questions. In Drucker's book, the Effective Manager, he says that a factory floor full of drama is inefficient. A workplace that is boring and has no drama is efficient - all of the potential problems have been identified, and contingencies have been put into place. And, by constantly answering your directs' questions all day long, you are holding back their development. Let them struggle a bit. Having an office 50' away where they can't just pop into your cubicle and ask questions means they will feel more pressure to try to solve problems themselves rather than running to you every time they have a question.