The last industrial relic

You probably don’t know this but the office is a weird thing that only turned up when factories did. Sure Lawyers and accountants had them, but not in the corporate form they exist in today. The office was an addendum to where stuff got built. It was there by accident, it was there because the tools of the trade (office machinery) had not been democratized to the point where we could own and have them in our home. The strange thing is that, now we can work from home, the large majority of us still don’t. Not because we don’t want to, but mainly because large corporations lack trust.

Many of us would save time and money if they did not exist (both people & corporations)

I think it’s the last industrial relic. It needs to be radically changed, even the name office is wrong. It sounds ‘official’ and full of rules. Sure we do need to work together sometimes – but personally I’d rather do that in some kind of creative collaboration space.

If offices really add that much value, then why do startups never have them? It’s because entrepreneurs know they are expensive to run, out dated and redundant.

Jason Fried gives us his synopsis on this topic at a recent TED talk. Which I love – it’s 20 minutes worth investing:



  1. Scott Kilmartin · July 31, 2011

    And I thought you were referring to my favourite truck driver Lindsay Fox!

    Fried’s talk and ‘ReWork’ book on the work/office habits are hard to argue with.

  2. Rob Smallwood · July 31, 2011

    Steve, you are so right. >> The strange thing is that, now we can work from home, the large majority of us still don’t. Not because we don’t want to, but mainly because large corporations lack trust.>>

    So often corporations are not about getting things done, but about localised middle management power games. Middle managers are often so insecure in their own little fiefdoms that they draw purpose and meaning not from what is achieved but from how many people they can see around them, all acting like good soldiers and doing what they are told.

    All good leaders know that real management is about focussing on achieving targeted outcomes and outputs, not about showing up in the office and just doing things.

    In our world today, we now have the tools available to us such that most things can now be achieved without wasting time commuting and spending the majority of our time in an office all day. A good leader has developed the ability to manage based on outcomes — giving staff the trust and the authority to get things done without having to be breathing down their neck every moment. Sadly, this continues to be the exception rather than the rule in Corporate life.

    As economic pressures mount to become more efficient and the cost of commuting increases due to the price of fuel, working from somewhere other than an office will no long be an option but a necessity.

    Let’s hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

    • Steve Sammartino · July 31, 2011

      Yep, great comments Rob. It is only a matter of time before the office is also a cost cutting measure – only then will they realise it was counter productive any way.


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