While on a recent tour of Dell Technologies' new open-office environment at its Round Rock campus, I had the chance to sit down with two Dell workers to find out what it was like to lose a cubicle desk in favor of unassigned open seating.
A bit of context: These employees were recruited by Dell's PR team to talk to me, and we were being shadowed by a public relations person. So don't expect lots of praise for the cubicle life.
Still, it was revealing to understand how their work life changed.
Samantha Edelfelt, 23
"I like it, it's really modern and bright," Edelfelt said. "Before you couldn't really see out the windows and now you can because it's so open.
She said sitting close to her co-workers has fostered greater collaboration.
"It's really easy to access other team members when you need them," she said. "It's made face-to-face communications a lot better."
Edelfelt said before when they had cubicles, it was hard to tell when someone was concentrating on work or was willing to be interrupted to discuss an idea.
Even though the seating is technically unassigned in their new space, she generally sits in the same spot every day, which allows them to personalize their desks.
When asked about privacy, Edelfelt said she wasn't too concerned about needing quiet space for phone calls. "As a Millennial, if I'm communicating with someone, it's mostly through texting," she said.
Shola Aluko, 41
Director of Product Management
"My first impression was, Wow, we're truly the world's largest startup. It felt open, it felt like there are a lot of work surfaces that you can see."
For Aluko, there were substantial health benefits to moving out of his cubicle.
He went from sitting in a cubicle all day to working out of a standing desk and walking around. "I've lost weight and it shows," Aluko said with a laugh.
Aluko said it also makes it easier to be a more mobile employee and work from home if he needs to because he "travels lighter," and isn't as desk-bound.
"I use less paper, you just stay more flexible," he said.
He said when he needs privacy, he uses the conference rooms or phone booths. He noted that there are more of these spaces than before under the cubicle system, so it's easier to have private conversations.
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