Steve Jobs, Office Design, and Teamwork

Apple Unveils Touch-Screen Tablet DeviceLinkedIn recently explored the mind of the late, great Steve Jobs, with an article by Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, titled “Why Steve Jobs Obsessed About Office Design (And, Yes, Bathroom Locations).” Isaacson notes, “Even though the Internet provided a tool for virtual and distant collaborations, another lesson of digital-age innovation is that, now as in the past, physical proximity is beneficial. The most productive teams were those that brought together people with a wide array of specialties.” He references Bell Labs, which combined theoretical physicists, experimentalists, material scientists, engineers, businessmen, and telephone-pole climbers to create and patent the first transistor.

When it comes to Jobs, Isaacson writes, “When Steve Jobs designed a new headquarters for Pixar, he obsessed over ways to structure the atrium, and even where to locate the bathrooms, so that serendipitous personal encounters would occur. Among his last creations was the plan for Apple’s new signature headquarters, a circle with rings of open workspaces surrounding a central courtyard.”

Many of these observations boil down to fostering teamwork. In an article for Reliable Plant by Rhonda Savage, titled “The secrets to successful teamwork: Trust and Accountability,” Savage lists 11 nuggets of wisdom to help any office team. The list reads as follows:

    1. Define the duties.
    2. Be clear with prospective employees during the interview process.


  • Define your expectations in a workplace policy manual.


    1. Outline the time commitment and set aside adequate time for each task.
    2. Be careful to not overload your staff with too many commitments or too many interruptions.
    3. Follow through by putting a note on your calendar to check on progress.


  • Avoid showing favoritism toward specific team members.


  1. Encourage your team members to stand up and lead!
  2. Open the lines of communication by having an open-door policy.
  3. Ask your team members to bend over backwards for each other.
  4. True teamwork means encouraging individual leadership development.

Visionaries like Jobs and others in Silicon Valley have pursued innovative workspaces to put these suggestions into practice. You too can foster this kind of environment in your office with the help of Office Space Planners. Our expert designers and project managers offer a variety of services, including analysis, commercial space planning, project management, and move coordination.

Being an innovator doesn’t mean you have to dream up the best new ideas on your own. For any of your office planning, design, and project management needs, you can count on Office Space Planners!

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