When I started at Corporate Realty last year, I was given a lovely large office, albeit one with no ceiling and one full glass wall. Result: quiet and visual privacy are arguably absent. I also inherited a brokerage partner who I have written about previously, Emily Byrd.
Emily had a workstation of her own with two large screens she could use when she docked her laptop. However, our co-workers quickly tired of my and Emily’s loud conversations across my aforementioned ceiling-less office to her workstation. So, notwithstanding the existence of her private workstation, we quickly found that Emily spent 95% of her time in the Corporate Realty offices in my office.
Here’s the situation. I’m twenty plus years into my professional career. I do work that requires me to be on the phone a lot. I also do work that requires intense focus and concentration. But I have a partner that shares my transaction workload. We partner on Every. Single. Deal.
What This Looks Like
So now it’s our office. And while we have a large desk, we don’t have enough space or outlets for Emily to have both her screens on the desk so she has sacrificed that perk to co-locate. I have sacrificed a little personal space, but honestly, work really isn’t about personal space, right?
And most of the time, this arrangement works really well for us. Emily and I each have different strengths, so it is incredibly convenient to be able to look across the desk and ask each other for help/advice/pep talks in real time. We both operate at about the same level of neatness, so a few paper stacks on the desk don’t really bother either of us.
I Mean What This REALLY Looks Like
We also learn a lot from each other. I have a few more years in the business than Emily and a legal back ground, so I can teach her from my experience. Emily, on the other hand, is incredibly resourceful and can find out anything about anyone or any property. (As far as I know, she mostly uses this power for good.) And she has been kind enough to share her knowledge about how to do this with me.
We also learn through the process of teaching each other. Sometimes when you have to teach something to someone, it makes you process your thoughts in order to put together a more understandable explanation for that person. In the process, you come to a better understanding of the subject.
Taking Off the Rose-Colored Glasses
Some of the challenges of a shared office? I don’t have Emily’s 34 year old metabolism so if she doesn’t stop eating junk food at our desk 10 hours a day, I am going to be a much bigger girl this time next year.
Also, neither Emily nor I use a landline, primarily because the nature of our jobs means we are out and about a ton and cell phones are the easiest way to reach either of us at any given time. Emily has taught me the beauty of using my mobile phone’s speaker option so I can (1) easily take notes on a call and (2) not have to recap everything to Emily the second I get off the phone with a client or landlord. However, there are times I don’t FREAKING WANT TO HEAR WORDS ANY MORE so occasionally, I might nicely ask Emily to take her phone off speaker. Nicely.
The Bottom Line: Sharing With Emily Is Better Than Not Sharing With Emily
A little side benefit to our shared office scenario is the obvious cost savings to our company created by improved density.
Are we the first to do this? Definitely not. I believe the practice originated in the U.K. where experienced lawyers shared their offices with apprentices so that the apprentice could learn from the master all day, every day.
But in the U.S., we tend to see more companies approach the office/no office decision as binary. Either someone warrants a private office or they warrant a workstation. Rarely is the shared office given consideration. Maybe it’s time to rethink that. It works for us.