SquareFoot’s CEO and founder Jonathan Wasserstrum gave up the luxury of a CEO office. Instead he chose to be located in the middle of the room. Surrounding himself with employees and being in the mix of day-to-day business activity. Our business has grown over the past seven years from a few people to a company of over 50+ people located in a New York City office space. ‘My consistent aim throughout all of this growth has been that I remain at the center of the organization.’ Wasserstrum says.
Where should a CEO office be located?
Typically CEO office spaces are tucked away in a corner or in a walled-off space. Sitting in the middle of the office between the marketing and sales teams allows Wasserstrum to be accessible and closer to the office conversation. Additionally, it gives our employees a different perspective on the CEO; someone who is approachable and happy to help employees – no matter how junior – should they have any questions.
However being an approachable CEO without an office naturally comes with some challenges. ‘The challenging part is making sure that I convey accessibility and approachability to my staff, and that nobody perceives me as the principal… watching close by.’ One of the ways that Wasserstrum remedies this is by attending company social events. The location of a CEO’s office can be viewed as an extension of the office culture. So for any CEO, whether you have a private office or not, joining company office hours and other social events can help ensure you remain invested in office camaraderie.
‘CEOs who want to keep their own office but still signal their desire for a more collaborative and informal culture could also have a desk in the open-plan area where they regularly do some work and interact with employees.’ Suggests Jeanne Sahadi, CNN Business.
Sitting in the middle of the office.
The office of the CEO is a place often synonymous with a big wooden desk. It can be somewhat guarded and unaccessible. Oftentimes for good reason. A CEO office allows for privacy and conducting confidential company matters. However Wasserstrum believes that sitting in the middle of the office isn’t a cause for concern. When it comes to needing privacy he has alternative solutions. ‘For me, working on confidential matters can be easily resolved by either booking a conference room or working remotely.’ The dismissal of a traditional CEO office has allowed our CEO to keep in tune with SquareFoot’s daily business. And Wasserstrum feels closer to his team. Allowing employees to be themselves while taking work seriously has helped improve workplace productivity. Plus we have found it builds trust among staff.
For more on this topic, read CNN’s coverage on ‘Where the CEO sits matters’ featuring SquareFoot’s Jonathan Wasserstrum.