MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

"The Room is what it's all about"

I started a line of thought last time about the diminishing value of Class A office space. Some good friends have challenged me on my perspective, which I greatly appreciate, fueling thoughts about the future of work and "the office." I will get back to that topic soon. In the meantime, I read the regular weeknotes from Berg. Berg, from their website, "is a design consultancy working hands-on with companies to research and develop their technologies and strategy, primarily by finding opportunities in networks and physical things." Their weeknotes are always a great read, and a model that always makes me shrink from my own discipline in developing a regular reflection on the state of our practice.

This post resonated well in the context of the Class A office space discussion. In this very simple recollection of a week at work, there are great indicators of the nature of work for creative organizations.

But what hit me most was the "Room." Berg is clearly successful, and expanding. Matt Webb, one of the founders of the company, is caught in the tasks of adding staff, reaching a limit on current space, and now about to enter the search for new space. Here is how the leader of an influential creative organization articulates his "brief," his requirements, for a place for his company to work –

I’m looking forward to travel pausing for a bit, and having everyone back in the same room. There have been lots of changes recently, and the Room – which in my head I’ve started capitalising, Room not room – is nothing if not a culture – a particular stance to design and the world, and shared values – a way to work which is beautiful, popular and inventive – and a network of people in which ideas transmit, roll round and mutate, and come back in new forms and hit you in the back of the head. The Room is what it’s all about. It’s a broth that requires more investment than we’ve been giving it recently. So, yeah, that.

So, yeah, that.

Companies like Berg are never in the market for "Class A office space" but companies like Berg may very well be exemplars of leading organizations of the future for whom the experience of working – "nothing if not a culture" – is what helps them achieve and sustain their leadership position. What Berg will search for – "Somewhere in Shoreditch with a bit of character, a bit of room to grow, a quiet room, a meeting room, and a space to run workshops and make films" – may be the best descriptor for what "Class A office space" means to the emerging organizations of the future.

I'll of course be back soon to extend this conversation.