The Cockpit, the Castle, and the Community – Why Someone’s Workspace Matters

The open concept floor plan for offices took off in the 1960s to help foster communication and collaboration in the workplace. Private office space has always been the most preferred by employees, although individuals will have different reasons for wanting private office space. Often we hear people claim they are more productive or log more hours when working from home. Let’s look at questions to ask when striking a balance between practical, productive, and pampered when it comes to the space where you work.


  1. Although collaboration is important, the ability to have private conversations, study plans, spreadsheets, contracts, and other details in construction is equally important.
  2. Some people have the gift of tuning out and can remain focused while noise and movement take place around them. Others need the right environment to concentrate.
  3. Comfort is often relevant to what, at the minimum, you are used to. If you change work environments and go from a 150 MB/s internet speed to 75 MB/s or shift from a private office to sharing an office with multiple individuals, productivity will decrease, just by the nature of the drastic change.

Mistakes employers make:

  1. Choosing office aesthetic over functionality. Proper office design, like home design, takes into consideration the use of the space and how the occupants live within it.
  2. Employers often assume that because a new employee’s predecessor did not complain about their workspace, it is fine for the next person using that same workspace.
  3. Employers think the employee will speak up if they need something or if something isn’t working for them. More often than not, that is not the case.

Questions when preparing to hire or move an existing employee:

  1. What does a day in the life of their job entail?
  2. Do they do detailed work requiring private workspaces for added concentration?
  3. Do they work regularly with someone they need to have logistically nearby?
  4. Do they need a place to spread work out, or do they work mostly paperless?
  5. What technology needs to fit and have connectivity (desk space, outlets, Wi-Fi, etc.)?

Questions to directly ask the employee or future employee regarding workspace:

  1. What does your current or most recent workspace look like?
  2. What software/hardware setup have you been using?
  3. Do you need any special provisions to do your job?

Whenever possible, during the interview process, show a candidate the workspace they would get if they won the job and watch their reaction. Ask the following: “Will this setup work for you?”

Anything new or different requires adjustment (Android to Apple, private office to open/shared office, new move, etc.).

Employees, whether you have changes at your existing job or are going to a new job, don’t downplay what might affect your performance.

An employer, or someone charged to handle office setup, may or may not ask the questions about your workspace. It is your responsibility to express your needs, understand needs from wants, and be able to communicate the difference.

Communication Examples:

Would it be possible to have a space to work on detailed work without distraction?


I need a private office.

Would I be able to get a second monitor? It would make me more proficient to be able to view drawings and RFIs side by side.


I need another monitor.

I am noticing a delay in my connectivity. Would it be possible to improve this?


The internet/Wi-Fi sucks (or) I need faster internet speed.

Often employers or the person charged with technology oversight and office setup are unaware there is a challenge.


If you want to assume something about your employer, assume they didn’t realize this was of importance to you—not they are too cheap, will be offended, or don’t care.

A legitimate ask that ultimately benefits the company
and employee will rarely be denied.”


Don’t take the one-size-fits-all approach for your employee’s workspace. A person who comes to the office a few hours a week does not need the real estate of someone who is full time. A superintendent may only need a laptop and shared space to work in when coming by the office. An estimator will need a dual-screen setup and a space conducive to concentrate and spread out, in addition to a separate collaboration space.

The Cockpit is the work area a person dials in for maximum efficiency. The Castle is the overall office space encompassing not just individual spaces but the common shared areas within the office environment. The Community is the people, both internal and external, they will interact within that space.

Do the conference room, teleconferencing equipment, and even parking work efficiently for meetings?

Learning how to communicate needs and concerns about the workspace and environment during the interview and onboarding stage can help training time and eliminate performance concerns that may develop.

Paul J. Meyer, author of such books as The 5 Pillars of Leadership and Attitude, said, “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

Will you plan for your efficiency along with the responsibility of the job?

To Practical, Productive, and Attractive Offices,

Suzanne Breistol


1 Comment
  • Steve Fales

    Yes, environment is critical. Thanks for this insightful article.

Leave a reply

Your email addres will not be published.
Required fields are marked with

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.