Beyond the water cooler

I know very little about Marrissa Mayer, but I certainly think she got it wrong when she recently ordered staff back into the office, banning working from home arrangements.

I’m not going to take pot shots at her, many already have.

I do however think we need to move past our obsession with bricks and mortar. Monday mornings hovering around the water cooler. Big boardroom meetings.

I can hear the naysayers. Yes, but we generate better ideas when we’re in person. Sure, so meet up when you need to. But I question in 2013 why we still have such a fixation on physically turning up to a space for meetings, to sit at a desk and tap away at the keyboard.

Of course there are exceptions, businesses that need a physical location. I’m zoning in here on professional services. Organisations that have employees plastered to a desk.

Consider the source. I run an agency predicated on the idea that “we created an agency that brings you the best people, not the closest.” That means staff, freelancers, partners. Scattered all over the place. A tangled web of fundraisers from Brisbane, Australia to Brighton, UK.

And it works pretty well. It’s not perfect, but whose business model is?

We meet up in person regularly, travel interstate, meet for coffee, for client meetings, hold staff conferences.

In between that we Skype, Hangout, we share stuff in the cloud, run virtual meetings. We connect really well, regularly.

I must admit I had a bit of an advantage. When I set up I had no office (except the one downstairs in my house). No security blanket to hang onto. No paralysing five year lease.

So it made it easier, no doubt. But having offices for the sake of having them is really old news.

For me having offices is like wearing suits. Does the suit really make you do a better job? Seriously?


2 thoughts on “Beyond the water cooler

  1. I absolutely agree Jonathon, having been involved in the not for profit sector for almost 20 years I have worked in both an office, on the road and work from home environments and have found that the concept of working out of home, at least 2 days a week or more, produced the best and most creative work that I have ever undertaken, in particular when in the process of developing web, social media and online programs for others and looking also at creating fundraising solutions for different charities that I have been supporting.

    The ability to shut out the distractions of a constant office environment, enables you the ability to create the best workspace for you to work creatively as well as laterally.

    Of course this kind of work does require some discipline and ensuring that the right workspace is created, but once you have worked that way for a couple of months, the discipline is not hard.

    The real bonus is work life balance, as being able to save at least 2 hours a day in not having to commute keeps enables you to stay fresh, motivated and ensure the other important elements of your life have time to thrive also, particularly when this kind of work often involves time spent on the road and out of hours.

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