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?