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Business mogul says offices should not have doors

Simple rule for startups

Mark Cuban is without question, the model that many startup founders are inspired by – he works all day and night but still plays hard and always tries new things, yet continues to make gobs of money. Cuban recently wrote 12 rules for startups in Entrepreneur Magazine, but today, we have chosen to focus on one more controversial rule he set forth with the idea that this concept is not exclusive to startups.

Cuban said, “Open offices keep everyone in tune with what is going on and keep the energy up. If an employee is about privacy, show him or her how to use the lock on the bathroom. There is nothing private in a startup. This is also a good way to keep from hiring executives who cannot operate successfully in a startup. My biggest fear was always hiring someone who wanted to build an empire. If the person demands to fly first class or to bring over a personal secretary, run away. If an exec won’t go on sales calls, run away. They are empire builders and will pollute your company.”

Is this realistic?

Can all industries and all offices have open offices like that pictured above? Can all companies survive in a collaborative family-esque environment where everyone knows everyone else’s business? Perhaps if closed door offices are available for sensitive phone calls or personal moments, an open office concept could work.

The fascinating part of Cuban’s assertion is that it works against the American Dream of the corner office with a personal assistant sitting outside, guarding the door and fielding calls. The modern dream is changing, and while some will stick to the corner office theory as the superior model, the startup world works best with all employees in the know, as do many other industries.

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Imagine if a Realtor had access to their broker who sat three desks away. Imagine if a sales person had access to their team leader across the room. Imagine if a public relations rep didn’t have to email or make an appointment to ask a simple question. Could this concept be helpful to a better team environment? You bet. Will bosses across America give up their quiet, private office? Probably not en masse, but if the startup world collaborates in this way, corporate America might some day follow.

What do you think of having offices with no doors that close employees off from one another, and a collaborative environment where employees don’t have to make appointments to ask each other simple questions? Is it realistic for your industry or is it startup nonsense? What is your office like?

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Matt Thomson

    February 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Looks amazingly similar (though much fancier) to our office. We have doors for our 2 conference rooms, our broker, and 3 of our agents. That's it.
    We are in the process of opening a new office about 25min north, and that one will have a front door and a back door, no doors inside at all.
    I think the team atmosphere, the lounge feel, is far more conducive to productivity.

  2. Precious

    February 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Open offices are the "fad" now. I suppose if more and more companies are turning to take on this new kind of office layout, it must be working its magic. It's easier to collaborate when people are easier to reach but of course a little boundary should still be applicable.

  3. Steve Johnson

    March 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Open office layouts are an absurd fad. It is well documented that they lower productivity, raise stress levels, and increase employee turnover. When asked about such office setups, employees universally dislike them due to high levels of distraction and interruption. The ideal model is to have private individual workspaces to get work done and save the fun, edgy, exciting design-inspired thinking for common areas.

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