Is losing my office a good thing?


It is said that one of the greatest agents of innovation is chaotic change. Celanese is full of change these days.

We have a new CEO, a new fuels business segment, and new innovative opportunities across all of our businesses.  But the biggest driver of innovation, at least for those of us in Dallas, may be the renewed layout of our new headquarters building.

In case you don’t know, after 20 years, the headquarters of Celanese is changing buildings. The former building was eight stories of back-to-back offices, for which most of us have become accustomed. The new office building is an open floor plan with the majority of employees residing in cubicles. Break-room space has also been expanded. This allows more employees to eat lunch while chatting with colleagues, rather than in solitude at their desk or at an outside venue. What does this shift mean to the employees at Celanese? This inevitable overlapping of social networks will have a dramatic effect on the diffusion of knowledge between teams and functions.

To some, this move represents a dreaded transition to cubicle-life. But in my opinion, cubicles might just be a step in the right direction for Celanese. Yes, cubicles are smaller, lack privacy and have an even bigger stigma after the movie “Office Space” was released. Yet, can we all agree that cubicles facilitate easier communication, networking and approachability than what we had before?

By working closer and communicating more often, our exposure to new functional areas outside our core responsibility will increase. As our learning increases, we become better-informed employees. Our ability to see the “bigger picture” is strengthened and translating disparate ideas into innovative concepts might just emerge. The social sciences would refer to this as a breeding ground for innovation.

The chemical business is complex, especially for those new to the industry. And we hire great people who bring a myriad of knowledge from their prior career. But it’s difficult to absorb that knowledge into our collective organization. Why not foster an environment where two-way learning can exist? The new atmosphere in our headquarters is a great start.

I believe the value of a corporation lies in the sum of the contributions of its people.

Now that many of us no longer have a door to close, the ability of the collective organization to speak-up and contribute just got easier.

*The Dallas based headquarters is the fifth global company location to go to an open workspace.

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About the author


				

Ryan Morrison formerly served as a Strategic Marketing Manager in Acetyl Intermediates, his second rotation in the Celanese Leadership Program. He has been spending his free-time as of late preparing for a half-marathon.

There are 11 comments. Add yours.

  1. Louise Magee says:

    I remember going through a similar experience at Toronto airport. At first I missed my office door and the privacy it assured but in time I realized what you did. I thought the communication flow with my coworkers was working but saw a gradual improvement in the feedback I received which in turn helped implement policy changes down the road in a smoother more receptive way.

    Good luck in your new work environment Ryan. I look forward to reading future blog entries from you.

    LM

  2. Casey Clements says:

    Reading this article made me think about when I returned to the Clear Lake Plant in 2011 after a two year stay in Nanjing, China. While I was away from Clear Lake a policy had been adopted that required people to close and lock their door if they were away from their office for more than 15 minutes (created as part of IProtect). What I noticed is that everyone”s door was closed regardless of whether they were there or not which resulted in an awkward, collaboration-free environment. No one was talking to each other or looking for ways to help outside their “office”. This was definitely a change from what I remembered when I left Clear Lake in 2009. Maybe I am not 100% sold on cubicles but the open layout seemed to work well in Nanjing and was far better than the closed door environment that I returned to in Clear Lake.

    • Admin says:

      Casey, thanks for your comments. The key is to strike the balance between protecting our intellectual property and collaboration. The new working space in Dallas seems to be working well with a lot of good comments about how it allows everyone to interact easily.

  3. Wilmer says:

    Well. In my past experience, I am always sitting in a public area. In some of the organization, no matter what is your level, you will site in a open space. Personally, I like to stand up and look around and chat with people. This could be a sign that we are more open?…

    BTW, Ryan, your cubicle is bigger than my room looks like…Enjoy your new open space working life.

    Best, Wilmer

  4. Sylvia Gonzales says:

    I’m enjoying the shared work space and excited that I can interact with others. I think it’s definitely a big change but in a good way for all of us. I get to learn more about my co-workers while chatting at lunch or at the gym. Yes, it’s smaller and there’s less privacy but change is good. I can say that our shared work space is more inviting and creates a
    comfortable feeling work environment. It definitely seems like cubicle life is more the trend these days and a good way to see the big picture as Ryan mentioned. I’m excited about the new change….just don’t take away my stapler…lol
    Sylvia

  5. Kelly says:

    I enjoyed reading this article as it reminded me of the good ole” Pampa days where we all had cubicles. I too worked in DOB but never seemed to have a problem with collaborating or communicating with coworkers / leaders.
    In the end, it comes down to cost. Its cheaper to house employees in cubicle workspaces; the cost to light / heat / cool an open environment is more cost effective than individual offices. I see nothing wrong with this; for a company to stay viable it needs to effectively manage its cash flow and minimize its operating expense.
    One idea to improve collaboration is to rotate senior leadership through various cubicle workspaces. I”ve seen this in practice and is an effective mechanism to communicate strategy and vision throughout the work area. In this way senior leadership is seen as approachable as well as improves sharing of innovative thought across levels in the organization.
    Best of luck!

  6. Irene Ibarra says:

    I”m seeing a lot of positive changes lately… One of which is the cubicle-environment for all or most employees. When you travel overseas to other Celanese sites, you clearly see the openness… and one has to be well versed here or there and adapt to the same environment no matter where you are…

  7. Kyle says:

    While I do agree that the move to cubicles is more cost friendly in terms of energy costs etc.. it will also have an impact on the effectiveness of employees. Some employees may thrive in isolated environments where they can close their door and plug away at their work silently while the move to cubicles may lead to additional distractions and hurt the effectiveness.
    For others, it may be the exact opposite where information can be gathered more quickly and relationships can improve with other employees where it might not have in individual offices. We have some cubicles in Edmonton, and the people that reside in the cubicles have some of the best relationships with a lot of people, cubicle or not.
    Either way Celanese wouldn””t have made the move to cubicles if it didn””t think a benefit was to be made.

  8. wendy says:

    Every coin has its two sides. While you are closer to your colleagues for easier communications, you are also closer to noises of distractions sometimes. BTW, Ryan, your cubicle is much bigger than ours.
    Congratulations and best wishes to your marriage!

  9. Juan P Toro says:

    You see, once a good friend told me that writing on Lined Paper will not allow her to open her mind. It only invited her to follow a “script” when writing. That is exactly what happens in the new building…no Lined paper, no closed doors, no separation walls. This is a pure white paper. No lines. Only openness. Change is good. It is needed for us to open ourselves and communicate with each other. Needless to say the outside view invites the imagination. It invites to an open door policy.

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