Daymond John: Get Out of Your Office and Into the Mix

The 'Shark Tank' star shares why it is so important to break down the office walls to open up the communication flow.
Daymond John: Get Out of Your Office and Into the Mix
Image credit: Blueprint + Co
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This story appears in the July 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Throughout my career, I worked in a traditional workspace. My company had an office, and I had a private office inside it. But when I started seeing business incubators -- with everyone at a company, from the top to the bottom, out in the open communicating and collaborating -- I said, “Wow, that’s a much better idea.” When everyone’s behind their closed doors, things are lost in translation. So about two years ago, I moved my staff into an open floor plan, with me dead in the middle. Then this spring, I made an even larger change. I opened a co-working space for executives and larger corporations called Blueprint + Co., and moved my staff into it. Now there are no boundaries between my team and others, including staff from Leesa, Ashley Stewart, The Honest Company and Shopify.

Related: 6 Steps for Creating a Strong Company Culture

That’s why I’m not just advocating for the open office anymore. I’m now advocating for no single, enclosed company office at all. (The exceptions: legal, HR and finance departments, which need walls to contain sensitive discussions and material.) Companies do themselves a disservice by walling off their employees. Traditional offices were designed to house all our bulky fax machines, scanners, phones and other equipment. Now everything is digital; you walk around with a computer in your pocket, and you barely need anything else. And that should free us up to think differently about how and where we work. I now believe a company is only as innovative as its workspace. I see giant corporations desperately asking people like me to come speak to their staff about innovation, but innovation won’t actually happen at these places because the old guard are stuck in their corporate offices. They can’t see what’s going on beyond their own walls. Fifteen years can go by without them learning anything new. 

Related: How Startups Are Building Strong Office Cultures

Some larger businesses are finally coming around to this. If a California company has a team in New York, say, housing those people in a coworking space, rather than renting some satellite office, makes much more sense. First off, getting private space means dealing with logistics and infrastructure -- a waste of time and money. But more important, those people will learn from and be inspired by the companies they work alongside, and create collaborations that neither of them would have developed otherwise. I see it with my own staff, who mix and brainstorm with others. I see deals made in the kitchen. There’s no more “Have your people call my people.” Instead, it’s just a matter of walking 20 feet -- immediate communication and immediate follow-up, which maximizes everyone’s time.

Edition: July 2017

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