Does it matter where your top team sits? Larry Page, CEO of Google, certainly thinks so.
“Page lives in horror,” writes Steven Levy in Wired, “of the company being bogged down by inertia, timidity or the sluggishness of bureaucracy. Thus, one of [his] first acts as CEO was to… have his top lieutenants work in the same room for a few hours every week to make sure everyone was on the same page. (No pun intended.)”
Other companies are also pursuing an architectural solution to team success. “Everywhere I go, executive suites are being reconfigured so that the entire top team can have their offices together,” observes Bob Frisch, managing partner of the Strategic Offsites Group, on the Harvard Business Review blog. “Companies are ripping out large private offices and dedicated conference rooms and building smaller, glass-walled offices, flexible conference rooms, self-service kitchens, and informal huddle spaces.”
Despite his endorsement of the concept, which he says “…helps smooth the way to organizational effectiveness,” Frisch sounds a note of caution. “If sitting together increases the effectiveness of your (top) team, doesn’t it decrease the effectiveness of the teams those executives themselves lead?”
To offset this potential side-effect, Frisch offers five tips:
1. Don’t be oblivious to the problem, since subordinates are unlikely to bring it up.
2. Provide team members with two offices.
3. Have executives block out unscheduled time when sitting with their own teams.
4. Allocate space near the executive suite for subordinates waiting to see their bosses.
5. Furnish executives with administrative support at both locations.