Sense of Place: Your new competitive advantage
Space is pretty important to us. No, not like SpaceX, outer space space. Like, actual physical work-life environment type space.
Here are several reasons why we value a sense of place and having a centralized team when, in theory, we could be completely de-centralized and operate remotely.
CLIENTS LOVE IT
From a practical level the aesthetics of a space are more important than one may think, and we’ve found our clients LOVE that. We’ve also found that clients value face to face more than remote communication (no matter what others say).
Like most of the elements of business, we’ve found doing the most human thing pays big dividends.
Despite typical perceptions about the benefits of technology, it is still inherently more efficient to be near other humans in order to collaborate internally, especially in an unplanned, serendipitous way.
IRONY & ICONOCLASM
Being centralized in our beautiful offices is simply another way in which ipso expresses its love of irony and iconoclasm. When everyone else in the tech world praises working remotely and believes it’s THE WAY, we are choosing the direction of human interaction and the creation of culture. And ultimately the flourishing of humans in actual community.
We also find that the transparency which comes from interacting with others—both internally and with our clients—is integral to fostering organizational trust. Seeing and hearing each other and sharing space with your teammates (or seeing who is building your beautiful home on the web) is, as it turns out, very important.
In an industry like ours, where work is often outsourced to the lowest common denominator, or where transparency is valued even less than a strong sense of place, being centralized and open about the Who, What, and Where builds confidence, trust, and loyalty.
BECAUSE WE CARE
We are always shocked when we meet with other organizations who say they value their people, but whose office space is altogether uninspiring or depressing. Creating an environment (physically and culturally) where humans flourish should be a natural outpouring of caring for your people and doing meaningful work. Making something more personal, more unique, more human—including our workspace—is simply how we’re wired.
If Behavior = Person + Environment, we want to be intentional in crafting our environment to encourage and inspire our best work. Creating a strong sense of place is another key element to shipping meaningful work.
I’m reminded of Edith Schaeffer’s encouragement to use our talent today in a way "which enriches other people’s lives, develops talent, and expressed the fact that we are all creative creatures,” and "above all...[we] should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively."(1)
[Ironically, this article is inspired by a text conversation between myself and one of our lead partners while I was in the Dominican Republic and he was traveling somewhere between our offices in South Carolina and Ohio.]
1. Quoted from Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer