Thursday, May 29, 2008

Overhead Bias

As a small business person, I have to confess to a certain reaction whenever I visit large corporate offices and law firms that are extravagantly decorated and located in expensive highrises.

I immediately start wondering about their overhead.

How much does it take to keep this place going on a monthly basis? That sculpture alone could pay my rent for the next ten years! Look at the size of that staircase! No wonder they charge so much!

I count the number of empty conference rooms while walking back to the individual's office, note whenever fresh cookies and exotic beverages are offered, and envy, truly envy, the views.

And all the time, a little calculator in my brain is click, click, clicking.

Say what you will about Wal-Mart but ole Sam kept the headquarters crew in spartan offices. Did he sense that if they went upscale, something would happen to their culture?

Now I know there are plenty of companies and firms with very nice surroundings and great people that are decent places to work. Those photos of Google's cafeteria are more enticing than our break room. It is one thing, however, to have an nice environment that is functional and contributes to employee morale. It is another to flaunt wealth. Many of these places seem to be designed solely to impress.

I may be wrong on this. What do you think?


Mark said...

I agree totally. But I feel the opposite in shabby digs. These guys must be incompetent because they have a battered metal desks and worn carpet.

Apparently I apply middle class thinking to office space too. I don't want extravagant but I don't want a slum either.


HR Wench said...

Mark took the words right out of my mouth!

DarkoV said...

I work in a small (45 employees) mfg company, fighting the good fight against imported mfg-ed goods. We have a 3 tiered sort of office space/mfg space decorative thing happening.
1) Conference/Board room where we meet customers is newly furnished, spacious, and spotless.
2) Room where we meet our vendors is Spartan, but clean. No fancy-schmancy glass & teak table here.
3) Our manufacturing equipment, PC's & Macs, office furniture are relatively new, all well-maintained, and religiously cleaned. We spend quite a bit on the office chairs, not for looks but for excellent back and seat support. We figure if we provided lousy and out-dated tools to our employees, our product would reflect that attitude.
So, I'm also with Mark on smart spending.

DarkoV said...

Oooops! That s/b 450 not 45 employees.