By Tom Mann, Principal

Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA

Steve Jobs took his obsession for meeting spaces to new levels when he helped design Apple’s headquarters.

The power of place

When Steve Jobs was designing the headquarters for Pixar, he obsessed over every detail, including where the bathrooms would be placed. In his book, “The Innovators: How A Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution,” Walter Isaacson writes: “Jobs was very particular about where the bathrooms were placed in Pixar’s office because he wanted ‘serendipitous personal encounters’ to occur.”

Jobs’ desire to have people from a wide variety of disciplines intermingling was legendary. He believed that this disparate exchange of people and thoughts would lead to greater creativity and teamwork.

Doug Leidig of Asbury Communities understands this obsession. “Granted, we’re not Apple but we understood that we needed to do something dramatically different to break out of the industry’s comfort zone. We were thrilled to confirm our long-held suspicions that we were going to lower our corporate office rent by heading just a few miles north, but still in the desirable Washington, D.C. metro area. The lease came with a significant build-out credit and this, coupled with the sizable savings in rent, meant Asbury Communities could dedicate more dollars to our mission of doing all the good we can for those we serve while creating a state-of-the-art work environment. The space was a complete shell, so with the help of Eric Krull of THW, we were able to design it to fit our specific vision. Gone are the offices and cubicles that subtly underpinned hierarchies, created silos and reinforced a culture of email over face-to-face interactions. In their place is a new energy and a new approach to solving the challenges we face as a provider of services for older adults. For us, this was really about culture change.”

Asbury Support and Collaboration Center

No one in the Asbury Support & Collaboration Center has an office, including CEO Doug Leidig (pictured above). Instead, the office is blessed with an abundance of open areas and collaboration spaces.

Note: You might be interested in this video showcasing the Asbury Support & Collaboration Center.

Touring Asbury’s space, you can’t help but get excited. Rooms traditionally set aside for ‘status’ offices are now community spaces serving as idea laboratories.  Open to associates from all Asbury entities, idea labs are a place where everyone can envision the future. (See Doug Leidig’s blog on adjusting a culture to an open workspace.) Each of these gathering spaces has state-of-the-art technology to enable seamless communication with Asbury’s off-site colleagues and partners (while also showcasing what The Asbury Group Integrated Technologies can do for its clients). Simply put, the space is beautiful. Even more important, you can physically sense the energy. Walk through the open design and you’ll feel the buzz that comes from people working together on changing how America ages. But there is something beyond the high ceilings, high tech and beautiful design. Asbury has restructured its organization to successfully grow by going outside of senior living for talent to build a new vision of what aging should be.

Eric Krull echoes Doug’s earlier statement, “The culture seems to be changing from my visits in the past. There’s something going on here that’s special!”

Note: If you do decide to go with an open-style office floor plan, I highly recommend reading Jason Fried’s blog on open office design etiquette.

 

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The Age of Disruption Part III, The Reasons for Growth
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The Age of Disruption: Part I, The Wolf at the Door

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