The fancy office of death

If the place where you work is nice, you may be out of touch.

From the book Parkinson’s law, and other studies in administration:

During a time of exiting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection we know is finality, and finality is death.

Recently in The Economist:

As a rule in the European Union, the grandeur of somebody’s office is inversely related to the sexiness of their work.

This seems to be true in the world of business too. Andrew Warner wrote how a new office in Manhattan cost him millions for almost nothing, and Steve Blank explained how a new building wasn’t only a waste of money but also impeded the company’s productivity and destroyed its culture.

In 2005, I was interviewed by Altran, a consulting firm, in a gorgeous building on the bank of the Seine river. The firm was famous for its excesses during the Internet bubble of the 90’s. They spent lavishly on office space in the most expensive parts of Paris. When I was interviewed in 2005 Altran was the only big French consulting company to lose money.