What's the relationship between quality of office space and company performance in tech companies? originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Here are a few observations from years (and years) of firsthand experience, and from discussing this question with quite a few founders and managers:
- Bringing heads together: The better designed the office space is, both aesthetically and functionally, the more time employees will stay in. And the more that happens, the more productive they'll be overall in collaborative roles. In such roles, most initiatives in tech require a group effort, e.g., interactions between PMs and engineers, marketers and designers, or people from the same department working together. Most of these efforts are iterative processes that progress a lot faster when response cycles are faster. Slack seems to be doing a good job closing the gap between being together physically vs. virtually, but my feeling is it will never recreate the experience of sitting together in a room and having a face-to-face discussion.
- (Not) bringing the noise: Particularly for younger teams in smaller offices, office space design can make the difference between people being able to concentrate and not. Especially if you have a sales team. Or you are big on meetings but are short on meeting rooms. The sounds can just get unbearable. Most people say it's hard to quantify, but it's actually really easy. Just calculate the average number of daily out-of-the-office coffee breaks people take.
- Office space and culture: This might seems silly, but there are many ways in which the office design can help shape and instill the company culture, and by doing so, increase the alignment of all employees. The best known example, perhaps, is the open office design, which is being hated on of late, although my feeling is that it's just misused and mismanaged. Some of the ideas behind open office are projecting transparency and facilitating communication between team members, both of which are cultural values. There are other ways in which design reflects on culture: how many meeting rooms you have, the ratio between male and female bathrooms, etc.
- High-quality office space helps in recruiting top talent: And top talent boosts company performance (duh!). This is very obvious. Before office spaces were a thing to brag about, companies that emphasized work environment had a competitive advantage in the job market. Today, it's table stakes.
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