Opening Your Office to the Public

As seems to be increasingly the case for government, businesses continually have to deal with demands to be transparent. In our Age of Information Overload, that can mean everything from posting how much the company’s employees make per year to going into detail about business costs and their effect on product markups.

The Transparency Kick has gotten so strong that some companies have even set aside periods of time when members of the public can enter the work space for practically any reason at all.

According to one marketing company profiled by Entrepreneur magazine, the idea is to give people the chance to ask questions, seek out advice or just chit-chat for a spell. There doesn’t have to be a so-called right reason to drop by the offices of Maryland-based Sisarina.

In fact, says the company’s Chief Inspiration Officer, a lot of people first ask why Sisarina would open its offices for an hour every Wednesday to a group that almost certainly will contain a perfect stranger. However, in the more than two years of the open-office meetings, the CIO maintains that the practice is worth it.

“I’m really keen on making sure people go offline to build relationships,” she says, adding that the face-to-face approach is far more preferred to interactions on social media. Plus, she notes, “I don’t feel like I have to go to every networking event in the world because people are coming to us.”

For dPop, an interior design studio, opening up the office for an entire day each month is the way to go. Visitors can bring along their laptops and access the studio’s WiFi. And the purpose of the monthly invitation goes beyond any hope of securing new clients, says the studio’s CEO. Instead, it’s all about tapping into whatever creative energies decide to wander through the door and stay for a while.

“If you’re in your own space, in your own head, and someone who isn’t so involved asks you a question,” she says, “It gets you thinking: Why haven’t we done this? Or tried that?”

So far, neither company has reported any security concerns, though occasionally a talker or two will show up and hold forth for a while.

Sisarina’s CIO sums up the open-door policy this way: “You generate word-of-mouth and you can control your brand a little better because people are coming to you and getting to know you in your home environment.”

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