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The Office Space: A Human Experiment

| June 9, 2013 | 1 Comment

Office SpaceUpon my first foray into the business world, I have come to the realization that your professional environment, although commonly in place prior to your employment, is also a construct of your own doing. I am currently a Marketing Assistant at Argopoint LLC, a management consulting firm in Boston that caters to the legal needs of some of the world’s most prominent businesses. As a marketing major seriously considering applying to law school, I saw this position as the ideal way to gain real world experience while marrying two of my leading professional interests. Besides the obvious personal benefits I derived from such an accommodating atmosphere, the instrumental learnings I have gained in my relatively short experience seem to extend to all corners of the business world.

Humble Beginnings

Perhaps a bit overcome with a sense of naivety, I came in ready to instantly make progressive changes to further the overarching objectives of the firm. From the literature I have read throughout my college career, I believed I could seamlessly implement marketing initiatives to contribute to our growth. A helpful tip to current students: being prepared for the real world application of the knowledge you have spent years cultivating is instrumental to your success. In concurrence to this little word of advice: be open to change, as a period of acclimation is necessary to realize your achievements. A collective fusion between intelligence and determination is obviously needed within any work environment to attain success. However, the human element, a much forgotten or even purposely suppressed trait within the workplace, is crucial to the vitality of an institution, as it forms a foundation that fosters all future progress.

Conversation: Pragmatic yet Progressive

The conversational corporate structure this firm has installed appeared almost radical at first. Admittedly, with a considerably limited amount of exposure to real-world business practices, I had expected my office to employ that hackneyed culture popular media has so often espoused, in which group conversations are supplanted by an individualized approach. However, in short order I realized that regardless of your industry, consistent conversation is integral to the financial prosperity of your company.

Although it sounds rather simple and trite, the inability for many businesses to implement and preserve such a structure predicated on these basics proves quite startling. Even though we may be in a professional setting, people must realize that the office space is still a learning environment with everyone working towards the same goal: fiscal sustainability. In order to achieve this, people must maintain a consistent dialogue amongst one another, giving sequential updates on progress while offering a helping hand whenever it is needed. This act of constant engagement, when properly put into practice, will show tremendous benefits. The conventional workplace today for many is designed in a way that almost inhibits conversation, as many believe this detracts from productivity. Conversely, it is through a communal sharing of ideas and dialogue where real progress can be made.

Existential Musings: Corporate America Devoid of Humanity

It has been said time and again how, at least in the corporate spheres we all become subject to, we must sacrifice some portion of ourselves in order to satisfy the demands of our ever-evolving enterprises. Stagnancy is the bane of our collective existence, and if one remains unremitting in their willingness to adapt, they will be left behind. Unfortunately, many of these changes require massive alterations to one’s personality in order to better accommodate the strict culture of their workplace. However, as a self-admitted conversationalist, I’ve realized through my own individual experience that the concessions have been limited and, besides the time commitment typical with any job, not too drastic.

I had my own trepidations upon my introduction into the work force, as I feared I would become yet another drone amongst a faceless populace. However, the system that my firm has in place, in which conversation is not only encouraged but required, has made it quite easy for me to maintain my innate qualities. Better yet, I’ve learned through our combination of email and physical conversations, productivity and team morale have increased exponentially. Careful and continuous consultation with everyone’s priorities and progress allows one to see which areas necessitate greater attention, while applying a more personal touch to the process.

I realize that despite one’s best intentions, many times attempts to combine efforts with co-workers may be viewed as a sign of weakness. In the spirit of furthering company-wide objectives, I would suggest ignoring these historical norms and, within what is professionally acceptable for your respective firm, maintain a consistent conversation. Such action will not only contribute to production, but also allow everyone to preserve his or her individuality. Your personality, which is too often viewed as a threat to cohesion, is ultimately instrumental to your success.

Combatting a Stigmatized Mold

Instead of an egocentric approach to business, where everyone is affixed with blinders and limited to the confines of their cubicle, it is crucial to learn what advances can be made by pooling your resources. The collective intellect of a driven team will always outperform the efforts of a single individual. By applying a conversational atmosphere to your professional life, you will see a crossover effect in terms of boosting morale, as we are more prone to help those who we have a personal rapport with rather than others who remain distant.

Even in my short tenure working at Argopoint LLC, I have gained great insight into the world of marketing, but I’ve also been exposed to a human experiment of sorts. The infrastructure under which I am working provides compelling social commentary concerning human interaction. One may say that I am over-analyzing the correlation between conversation and productivity, but results breed confidence. In order to succeed you need a conducive environment in which communication, and particularly discourse, is not only allowed but encouraged. You must realize that your most valuable resource is not a phone, computer or book. Rather, your mind, in which you have invested considerable time and money to develop, is by far your most treasured asset. By not actively sharing your knowledge and experience you are ultimately doing those around you, and by extension your company, a huge disservice.

Andrew Phillips is currently a Marketing Assistant for Argopoint LLC, a trusted adviser to the legal departments of some of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions. Argopoint works strategically with Fortune 500 companies to formulate strategies to significantly increase performance and efficiency.

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Category: Entrepreneurship