Making restrictions least restrictive
When I give people a (silent) tour through or Mainland, many get the impression that we work in a restrictive office setting. On the contrary, our silent office is in many ways less restrictive than a traditional open-plan office — after all, constant background noise is simply another form of restriction. In addition, our cozy lobby and the many meeting rooms offer even the most communicative person the right work environment. With a team of over 90, restrictions are almost necessary. It’s all about providing individual freedom and how these restrictions can be circumvented or personalized to be least restrictive.
A concept like ours doesn’t even come to mind for many, simply because it’s so counterintuitive — having 90 plus people in the same room, all working in silence. Regular open-plan offices are popular because companies value communication and collaboration, so working in silence is going to restrict communication and freedom of expression, right? On the contrary, it makes communication much more reflexive and purposeful. Our silent office does not create a tense work environment in which nobody is allowed to cough or sneeze — but it promotes consideration and respect for the work of others.
Yet, all of this is not to say that our Mainland as a way of working is a universal way to success and can serve as a successful blueprint for any place. It needs to suit the type of work you are doing and needs people who are willing to commit to this change — at Kolibri Games, we were lucky enough to have founders who did just that.
Contemplate, communicate, iterate
You are intrigued? Great! Here are some suggestions on how you can try this out for yourself:
Start out by analyzing if any form of silent office would suit your workplace: Look at the individual job positions across your team and see what their interaction and communication looks like. Would it be possible to centralize or relocate some of that? Also, check if your current infrastructure allows the implementation of a silent office, or could be repurposed to suit your needs. If all that works out, talk to everyone and communicate the idea well — do people even want this? If it’s a yes, you could use an iterative approach and start by trying it out for just half a day and see how that works.
Out of the comfort zone, into the quiet
A silent office like ours means a step out of the comfort zone for any company. What initially sounds like working in a library, actually creates a personally and professionally promoting corporate culture for many. Through a simple rule — no talking — it reflects and deeply anchors our work ethics and values in our day-to-day activities.
Although implementing and maintaining such a setting is quite the challenge, especially in times of rapid growth, it has paid off for us and has become a vital part of how we think and work at Kolibri Games.