Redesigning the corporate office

FOR CENTURIES businesses have settled inside the old walls of the City of London. Its geography is the same. But inside the Square Mile’s temples of commerce the changes have been profound. At the start of the 20th century offices aimed to maximise efficiency by mimicking the factory layout with rows of supervised typists and clerks, as promoted by Frederick Taylor, an early American management consultant. In the 1960s less rigid Bürolandschaft (“office landscaping”) made its way across the Channel from Germany. The 1980s ushered in “cubicle farms”. Today open-plan offices and unassigned “hot desks” aim to flatten hierarchies and increase informality for many of the City’s 400,000-odd whitecollar workers.

A tour of three new offices in London illustrates the latest trends. Around 7,000 investment bankers are moving into the eight-floor, purpose-built European headquarters of Goldman Sachs, which has taken 18 years and £1bn ($1.25bn) to develop. Nearby, a branch of WeWork, a troubled startup (see article), rents out co-working space in an old City pile to 2,300 “members”, each of whom enjoys half the space that Goldman affords, and at a third of the price. Down Threadneedle Street the finishing touches are being put on 22 Bishopsgate, a 62-...

via Business Feeds

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