After twenty-five years in the same building, I'm planning to move my office, and reminded of how much office space has changed since I started InfoStrat. In may ways, office space has suffered the same fate as the men's business clothing industry.
When I started my first job, everyone's goal was to graduate from shared space to a private office, preferably a window office. The ultimate was the corner office, guarded by an assistant.
Today all this is changed, and I had to ask myself whether we needed an office at all. Of course the assistants are long gone as well. Many new companies don't have offices at all, working at home and meeting in public places or temporary as-needed office space. I have heard that some Google employees wander the earth to work out of offices in exotic areas. Hey, why not, especially with free food at the office?
I recall when our clients and partners such as Microsoft and federal agencies started redesigning office space for "hoteling," and building new types of space for collaboration and individual work.
I have learned over the years that you never have the office space you need. The only question is whether you have too much or too little. Lately I have had too much office space. This is not because we have too few people, but because our staff prefer to work at home rather than the office. Typically Monday is the busiest day, and you have to arrive early to grab choice space. Other days there are many empty private window offices.
As for me, I am old fashioned in many ways and this includes enjoying dedicated office space. I like to have comfortable, quiet space to collaborate with my colleagues, and I appreciate being able to switch from work mode to being home. I do enjoy working at home on some solitary projects, such as writing, or for conference calls to other time zones around the world.
Cloud computing and online collaboration tools have made it easier for people to work remotely, and Dynamics CRM makes it possible to have a unified view of a geographically scattered sales or customer service organization.
Despite these changes, office space provides a way to concretely manifest the culture of your organization, and to show your commitment to your people and to your customers. Done right, the office can boost satisfaction and productivity.