Abolishing executive offices

IT IS A tradition of corporate architecture. A company’s top executives get offices on the top floor, often dubbed the C-suite after the “chiefs” who occupy it. The CEO resides in the “corner office”, with the biggest windows and best views. Junior staff suffer a few moments of trepidation when summoned upstairs. Some heterodox bosses shun this tradition. Reed Hastings of Netflix has no office, corner or otherwise, and huddles at random desks, for example. Now more staid firms are following suit. Executives in the London offices of HSBC, a banking giant, will no longer be based on the 42nd floor of the group’s Canary Wharf tower. Instead the floor will be converted into meeting rooms. Senior executives will “hot-desk” with everyone else. A plausible argument for such a shift can be made. Staff morale would suffer if the rank-and-file are crammed in open-plan offices while the executives cling to cushy digs with panoramic vistas. When the top brass sit alongside their teams, they will be more in touch with how projects are going, and how staff are feeling. In theory, if the executives are visible, employees are more likely to approach them with problems. But lingering bosses may equally hurt morale. One of the joys of office life is the freedom to enjoy a bit of banter with colleagues. This may include the odd…
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