In 2018 I started an interim role as Chief Strategy Officer at Power Digital Marketing. Over a weekend I moved all my furniture into the new office prior to starting on a Monday. Immediately, and for several weeks, I received numerous comments on how I set up my office. I realized a lot of what I did was based on my experience and being intuitive versus intentional. So here’s me documenting why I care about how my office is designed if others want to reproduce the desired impact of the office design.
3 key drivers that shape why I have my office the way I do as a Strategic Leader in a company :
1) I create an open space with the emphasis on a sitting area for me to work with teams. Why? First, as leaders we need to spend more of our time working with others instead of doing the work. Moving from being strategic and working ‘on’ the company versus ‘in’. We can only scale our impact by working with other leaders. Second, I’ve found the most common practice of sitting behind a desk communicates a power-dynamic that isn’t conducive to the type of servant leadership I want to do. When I have a giant leather backed mahogany chair and a enormous desk and across from me sits my colleague six-inches lower on some rickety stool or chair, it sends a message, creates a barrier and communicates a clear hierarchy of value. So I want to get from behind the desk and sit in a space of equality and often openness.
2) I put my desk against the wall. I’ve learned that I’m easily distracted and this greatly impairs my ability to do the deep strategic thinking I need to do. Because I’m often trying to build strategies, work on the company and craft ideas that don’t yet exist, I hold tremendous amount of information and ideas in my head. Any distraction impacts my ability to synthesize all these ideas which is a serious set-back. I strongly recommend reading Deep Work or Paid to Think and why being in an open area as a strategic thinker is dangerous.
3) I use a standing desk. Return on Energy and energy management is critical to a leader’s performance. There are times I need to stand. Times I need to sit and my ability to adjust based on energy allows me to perform at my best. I want all the options so my standing desk is even motorized so I can use an office chair or I can use the couch.
I’m sure there are a lot of resources on this topic, but this was a bit of what shapes my thinking on office design.
How do you design your office? I’d love to learn how your office is designed as a leader and why.