Cutting-edge companies knocked down their cubicle walls years ago, realizing that open environments can lead to improved collaboration, brain sharing, and creativity. These efforts are now expanding beyond advertising, media, and tech companies, where collaboration tends to occur more naturally, and in other industries such as financial, chemical, and manufacturing.

As a business leader, you may be considering knocking down your walls, offering a collaborative, open, and creative space. Remember to keep a few things in mind:

  • Offer private spaces for team members to escape to when they need to concentrate without interruption.
  • Teach your teams the proper etiquette for working in open spaces, and
  • Know that not everyone will love the new openness right away; eliminating walls elicits its share of detractors, too.

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Beyond the Walls: Holistic Flexibility

For every company, whether cutting edge or not, the most important way to improve collaborative processes, increase retention, and revitalize its approach is to be holistically flexible. This may mean opening up space for better collaboration. But it may also mean letting someone work from home from time to time or thinking about different work schedules. Holistic flexibility considers many options.

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Achieving Input and Buy-In from Your Teams

Ultimately, any successful approach will require input and buy-in from across your employee base, in consideration of what matters to them. Don’t just jump on the latest fad or embrace the latest craze simply because it’s trending. Listen to your team about what they need in order to be productive and happy.

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In the end, no amount of change means anything if your leadership hasn’t been top-notch. You can tear down the walls, but if you still have subpar leadership –walls or no walls – you’ll achieve the same results.


As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

Learn More About Michelle