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Compact, communal and collaborative: What Mark Zuckerberg may have known all along about creating productivity in the modern office space

December 15, 2010 | 10:11 am

Desk Much has been made about Mark Zuckerberg's desk -- mainly that it's nondescript and one among many within his Facebook headquarters. Rather than opting for a corner office with a view and a door, the 26-year-old CEO and Time magazine's Person of the Year chooses to sit with his employees.

For someone who isn't portrayed as all that personable, this detail seems to make him more likable -- as though it somehow proves that deep down he's just a regular guy who still wants to sit with his friends. But maybe there's more of an explanation as to why Zuckerberg sits out in the open; perhaps it's a calculated decision aimed at creating a communal environment for increased productivity.

In an article from Wednesday's edition of The Times, the Business section looks at how shrinking office spaces may transform the corporate environment into a place that's more collaborative and therefore more effective. 

"In the 1970s, American corporations typically thought they needed 500 to 700 square feet per employee to build an effective office. Today's average is a little more than 200 square feet per person, and the space allocation could hit a mere 50 square feet by 2015, said Peter Miscovich, who studies workplace trends as a managing director at brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle.


Companies have been gradually dialing back on office size and grandness for years, but the recession accelerated the trend as sobered owners let go of their old floor plans and tried new ways to speed productivity, attract talent and cut costs."

Of course, for all of the potential benefits that may come with more compact work spaces -- saving money for the employer, fostering community and productivity among employees -- there is a downside for those who must sit near an "over-sharer." And unlike the ability to hide friends on Facebook, in the real world there's no way to "block" someone who verbalizes too many status updates.


The Zuckerberg revolution

-- Alexandra Le Tellier 

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg at his desk. Credit: Screenshot from "60 Minutes" segment about Facebook and Zuckerberg.

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