Offices are dead — at least in the way we use them today. Why? Because they limit your resources.
Let me explain.
Offices are about proximity. You pull all your employees together into one building where they can interact and share resources. Of course, we don’t need physical proximity anymore due to social collaboration tools, telepresence, and coworking spaces that provide shared resources. But that’s not the reason we should kill offices as we know them.
The real reason is that proximity equals isolation.
“But we work in a coworking space,” you might say. “We meet people, have coffees, network, blah, blah, blah.”
No. One coworking space is not enough. What you need is to literally have each of your employees in a different communal space.
Here’s why: If you had to choose between a larger network or more physical proximity for your team, which would you pick?
Consider what happened to me today. My startup had a technical issue we didn’t know how to solve. It would have taken us more than half a day to figure it out. One of our developers who works remotely from another town, from another coworking space, said: “Guys, let me ask a guy who sits besides me.”
Problem solved in 15 minutes. Money saved, time saved, frustrations saved.
But here is the key: If he had worked in the same coworking space as others on the team, he wouldn’t have had access to any help beyond the people already around us. Because our team is spread out across coworking spaces (partly because our business targets the coworking market), our capabilities expand exponentially as our employee numbers increase.
That’s why you need your people to leverage as many distinct networks as possible — a distributed team working from different coworking spaces multiplies the inputs, contacts, and inspirations that feed into your company.
Our small team is comprised of people working from seven different cities and three different countries, many of whom have never met one another. Yet we really are and feel a team.
And it’s not just the distance that’s an asset but the cultural diversity it brings. We’re able to tap into radically different perspectives in a world (that of startups) that often lacks them.
So what are the takeaways?
- Actively look for talent far away from you and hire it where you find it
- Get them to work from a coworking space or any communal space with an interesting setting
- Let them know that having a coffee with the people around them is part of their job