I have seen a number of reports, the most recent from Lindsey Kaufman of the Washington Post, on how the ‘Open Office’ and ‘Bully Pin Workspace’ trend started by companies like Google back in the 80’s is finally proving to be what was predicted it would be…a flop.
What I Found
A few years ago I was asked to be part of a business development group forming who wanted to enter the ‘Shared Office Space’ market.
The concept competing commercial real estate brokers were using was based on not a completely open office space environment but encompassed the feel of an open environment by having all private offices placed along the external windows of the building with enclosed walls between the offices suites and a glass front that allowed those sitting in the open space in the middle of the office floor to view into the private office suites. It looked cool, but as Ms Kaufman alluded to, gave those who leased the glassed in office suites a feeling of being in a “Fishbowl”.
More Privacy Needed to be Productive
My function for this group was to develop the business model for the concept they outlined and present it to the board of directors so they could could approve the content they needed to put into the investor pitch binders. I enjoyed the project and it was thrilling to see the profitability of the concept develop as I was building the model.
Unfortunately, when I got to putting the finishing touches to the model I started finding article after article reporting on how the entrepreneur and small businesses targeted as primary users of these shared offices spaces were tiring of the same intrusions of their privacy as mentioned in the Washington Post article.
These reports started to devalue the business model resulting in the ‘due diligence’ process I was part of being shelved until a more conclusive direction in the workspace and office space market could be found.
Fortunately, the group’s leadership instructed me to develop what I saw would be the office space concept the small to mid-size business market is moving towards. This ignited my operations processing brain cells to a near party level resulting in me developing a new plan the group’s board of directors, and now investors, are seriously considering. I wish I could say more and hopefully in a few months I can.
Back to the Future
What I can say is, the Open Workspace is dead. My company, SyncLab Media, currently offices in one of the open office fishbowl suites environments in Dallas and we deal with all of Ms Kaufman’s frustrations on a daily basis. The pounding on the designer concrete flooring of the hobnail boot many of the inhabitants of our shared office space wear generally is the biggest issue the majority of lessees have with with the open environment. The lack of camaraderie amongst the inhabitants drags the work life environment down.
These issues, along with the introvert entrepreneur culture developed over the past 25 years, are what universally is killing the open public feel of the shared workspace.
Granted, there is truly a need for small offices spaces, with a shared business services, infrastructure small to mid-size businesses, and even small corporations, would benefit from. Interesting enough, thanks to the fiasco resulting from the Open Office environment Facebook and other fashion eccentric type companies started, these more pleasing type office spaces like I am a part of developing would not come about without the socially eccentricities exposed by putting people in a bull pen office space .
I am so glad to see the future of open office space is changing which means the culture of 8 to 5 peer review is coming to an end.
Let me know how I can help.
Also published on Medium.