Zoë's blog

Views on coaching, leadership & working in teams

The walls in open plan offices

I recently coached a senior finance leader in a corporate… we were having the early 3 way meeting with her boss and then something they said made me do a double take – I heard them say they sat next to each other – their desks were literally feet apart… and yet for the last nearly an hour we’d been talking about how ‘far’ apart they were, how they were disconnected, and working and talking at cross-purposes… to the extent that my client was disengaged and disempowered and her boss was frustrated and lacking trust in his direct report. And I’d imagined that they must be at least on different floors, if not in different buildings!
Of course one of the things that then quickly emerged was that they needed to have real 1:1 conversations about their work and how they work together… rather than continuing the silent assumption that the brief snatched talking at each other across the desk was actually real dialogue. I came away so struck by this that it made me curious how many other leaders work in open plan offices, ‘near’ their teams or direct reports, and yet have these invisible walls dividing them?

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