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How to Design your Office to Reinforce your Vision

How to Design your Office to Reinforce your Vision
When people walk in the door of our space, they’re confronted with one of those vilified open office environments, the one that Fast Company Magazine said was an idea born in the mind of Satan in the deepest caverns of hell. And people ask me, they say, Rich, their psychologists approved these kind of open work environments don’t work, why does it work for them though. And I tell them that we didn’t create an open and collaborative work space, a work space that quite frankly is free of walls, of barriers in human communication, but that wasn’t our focus or intention.
Our focus was to create an open and collaborative culture, a transparent culture, a visible culture, and our space is a manifestation of that culture. So when you walk in our doors, the first thing you notice is what is not in the room. There are no barriers to human communication. The human energy is high because everyone is in conversation with one another, but it’s not chitchat. It is actually the noise of work. And that noise of work becomes the self-reinforcing component of our culture where, in fact, people will, they will enjoy the serendipity of overhearing the ideas of others. And we want that to happen.
One of the strongest rules we have at Menlo is you can’t wear earbuds while you’re working. You can’t shut yourself off from other human beings. All of those components lend themselves to that human energy that people feel when they walk in the room. Then we wrapper the place with all of these boards that you can pushpin artifacts into. Our most important artifacts are out in the room for all to see. We have this paper-based management system that’s very visual and inviting, and so there’s kind of a visual noise to the room that draws people in. And that’s very important for us.
We didn’t want it to be this sterile work environment where, quite frankly, I’ve worked in places where you had to get permission to do anything to a wall anywhere you go. There is none of that at Menlo. We have no space police. We have no people who are in charge of the space. The team has full control over the space they work in, and because they do, they take ownership of it and they feel good working in that space every single day.
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