By Bryant Rice
Late June, the Wall Street Journal did a story on the “dream office” titled “Designs to make you work harder”. They challenged 4 design firms to create a 15 by 15 foot space for a midlevel manager.

225 square feet for a mid-level manager? That’s a big office…one that usually has a sofa or conference table in addition to a desk. What kind of mid-level manager? What do they do? How do we know they need 225 square feet?

Each firm defined their client, and responded with spaces that had a lot of glass and opened onto the other office spaces. . .I guess for “the low level managed”. They were all “multi-purpose” and available for use when the manager was out. Beyond that, it bore no resemblance to the desires or practices that I see my clients  grappling with here in Silicon Valley.

It’s ironic, that Wall Street and its journal is investigating the perfect office, while Silicon Valley is trying to envision spaces without dedicated offices, with offices on demand, with virtual offices. We are trying to solve the problems of collaboration with teams that stretch around the world and the day. We are trying to bring energy back to the office, providing the policies, tools and spaces for innovation and implementation on a variety of projects and processes that drive our technology markets. In Silicon Valley, the founders of Google share an office, with each other and with additional and diverse sets of employees over time. There are few offices at Salesforce.com and Mark Benioff actually has his house in Hawaii on Outlook for reservations.  Riverbed Technology executives don’t have an office. There are no offices at Intel or Facebook . These companies seem to be doing great!  There is, in fact, more excitement about technology now than ever before. Contrast that to the financial markets, their performance and their values.

So forget the focus on the office, design the work room, the team pod, the project space, a scrum room, the innovation hub. You can make those transparent and convertible as well.

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