I’ve worked in two different corporate environments where office space has been coveted and treated as a commentary on individual performance and speculation. At both the $6B firm and $1B firm for which I worked, offices were always an under-the-table topic of conversation. “Who is getting the corner office after Bob leaves?” “Why is Rick’s office next to the CEO?” “Did you hear that they’re putting everyone in 6’ x 6’ cubes?” It’s like high school kids gossiping about who is doing what with whom.
At Marxent we practice an “earn your amenities” philosophy when it comes to things like office space, benefits, travel and conferences. We earned our way out of my brother’s basement a few years ago and then a very modest space with folding chairs and tables a year or so after that. About six months ago we earned our way into a beautiful 4000sf space at Research Park in Kettering, Ohio. About half of the space is a large open area and the rest of the space is offices. We’ve filled up the space quickly. Well half of the space.
The other day it struck that none of our employees have ever asked for an office. No one. Ever. Not even a subtle hint. Everybody just keeps making room for the next guy. It’s true that some people can be loud and distracting; One person’s break isn’t always another’s; There are conference calls and sometimes a developer just needs a quiet space to work.
Don’t get me wrong, people use the offices but they elect not to occupy them. They don’t ask about them or secretly resent co-workers because of them. Marxent team members don’t hide away only emerging for lunch or meetings. We work together on everything and everyone is available as a resource during the work day. This team-centered spirit of collaboration is at the heart of how we do business.
The CTO and our Director of Operations sit next to developers and designers. Senior, more experienced folks sit with junior developers. We use the most fundamental human technology to communicate – conversation. Sure, it can be frustrating at times and on some days it might impact productivity but our team values the overall inclusive experience of working together and sharing information over staking a claim to 8 hours flying solo in a private office.