A mixed office featuring input from every team. Each team really only consisting of a handful of people. The open office creates the chance for open conversation. We have said it before, and we will say it again: a start-up work environment needs to be fluid and accessible. Changes need to happen quickly. However, it isn’t like holding your hand up back in the school classroom, but taking a smart and logical method to resolving issues. The environment can change almost instantly. Rarely a warning of change apart from a ‘Bryan, do you have some time quickly?’ being called across the room. Bryan isn’t a codeword, Bryan is just one of the more regular names being mentioned.
A fluctuating office isn’t something you can quickly adapt to. Typically speaking, offices (like the stock market) are all ‘Go, Go, Go’ – Like Murray Walker starting any race when the lights go out.
Or you have the real quiet and reserved offices resonating The Library of Congress. Drum can flick between the two. Instantly and unexpectedly.
Ding ding, as if the silence is broken in a split second. Everything goes haywire. The phones start to ring. Issues begin to flood in. Users rapidly sign up. A calm and collective office turns into something from the Wolf of Wall street.
A pin drop wouldn’t be noticed, even the regular traffic jams outside our office become unnoticeable. The beeping horns, and the drivers scrambling out of the cars on a scorching Brighton beach day become completely irrelevant.
The office comes back to life, everyone honing in on the issue in hand. There will be several conversations at the same time. There will be a small huddle of people discussing the current partnership for a web presence. Usually found around the whiteboard. Using varying colours, each member takes their turn in the problem-solving to create the solution.
Two people are having a conversation about a screen sharing issue. This carries on to the point where someone stands and either takes the meeting somewhere or accepts it needs to wait. We may even fall back to Slack. The hustle continues.
Then there are times which can only resonate to an environment found in your local yoga class.
Calm and serene. The office is a like a calm sea view in the Bahamas (outside of hurricane season). Everyone with their heads inside their computer tackling their own individual task. Then the external noise, the super car, the traffic jam and the passing community infiltrating the office environment. Everything becomes heightened.
The headphones come on, some have their iPhone headphones whilst others look for a real experience with a pair of Bose. Cutting off any external noise, we head to Slack to communicate and collaborate. Sending messages back and forward throughout one of our 52 channels. When the headphones come off, the noise can only be likened to an old fashioned typewriting office. Just the noise of fingers hitting keypads and the odd noise pollution from varying headphones.
Both types of the Drum environment resonate a startup. You need equal measures of collaboration and focusing on your own tasks. A diverse and working environment is what makes a startup successful. Varying levels of ‘Go, Go, Go!’ and The Library of Congress is required, all tailored to your working environment and driven by your team.
You need two things to remain productive
Classic chicken and egg situation. You could be halfway through writing the user journey for a partner or reviewing your audio conferencing minutes for the previous month. The altering office environment doesn’t care for that. Like the weather, it will change regardless of where you are. However, unlike the weather, it can sometimes be more predictable. Knowing when things could change comes from experience. Taking note of the brief moments which lead onto manic discussions. And taking note of when you need to remove your headphones to prevent a ‘knock’ on your desk or a repetition of your name.
Learn to multitask
Dipping in and out of varying tasks makes working in a startup not only easier to do but making you more effective. Losing your place on a document or the trail of thought slows you down. You can’t afford that every hour. Your day quickly becomes ineffective and counterproductive. We are all adapted to varying working environments, for some, such an environment just wouldn’t be possible. For others, they would thrive.
Each member of the Drum team thrives in varying environments. But each member has adapted to the office culture and developed their own mechanisms for handling the peaks and troughs. Some, as mentioned above, switch in between their noise canceling headphones. Others rely on multiple screens to remain as prompts. Others are just naturally used to continuously altering the environment.