The location of your startup is critical to its success.In my book, Startup Cities, I found that each city has a different attitude towards startups. Those cultural differences between regions can make a huge difference in whether your startup can raise capital and hire the talent you need to turn your idea into a fast-growing public company.
Consider the case of the file storage service Dropbox. Its CEO, Drew Houston, is a Massachusetts native who graduated from MIT and first pitched his idea — a service that would let people store spreadsheets, photos, and other files on their desktop and in the cloud — to Boston-area investors, according to the Boston Globe.
Local investors dismissed it as a nice idea that Microsoft or Google could easily replicate, so they passed. When Houston gave a demo in Silicon Valley, an angel investor chatted with his cofounder after their pitch and introduced them to Sequoia Capital,leading venture capital firm — that invested within days.
Boston investors must be kicking themselves now. Dropbox went public and now has a stock market capitalization of $11 billion, while Houston — which recently gave MIT $10 million to endow a professorship — has a net worth of $2.2 billion, noted the Globe.
Surely it mattered for Dropbox before the pandemic, but now that so many people are working from home and millions are quitting their jobs, does location still matter? And when people can theoretically work from anywhere, why should a company spend money on office space in a specific location?
Here are four lessons that business leaders can learn from the decision to cut Dropbox’s office space by 80% in Houston.
1. Figure out what work can continue to be done remotely: —
The pandemic sent many workers home. If their work was doable through a combination of typing into a laptop and participating in videoconferencing, there may be little reason to change that approach.
However, you should analyze objectively how well that work has been done. Are your employees delivering high-quality results and meeting deadlines? More generally, are your productivity, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and market share rising?
If so, you should keep that work remote. You should also explore whether there are other kinds of work that have been done in the office that could be shifted to remote work while improving performance.
If your company’s productivity and market share trends are deteriorating, you should find out why. This investigation should help you determine whether you should move some of your work back to in-person or take other actions to solve the problem.
2. Know the purpose of your in-person interactions: —
Houston saw the pandemic as a 100-year-flood-like event that forced him to rethink how people work. While he was happy that people could work from home and realize that it saved them commuting time, he also concluded that in-person interactions have an enduring purpose: to build relationships with coworkers, the Globe reported.
The most important takeaway for business leaders is to reconsider whether your company still requires office space and, if so, what the space’s purpose should be.
3. Choose office space to suit that purpose: —
In a world converted through COVID-19, distinct kinds of corporations have different area requirements. It’s likely that manufacturing corporations will still want factories and warehouses, and store-based outlets will still need shops so customers can see and touch their merchandise before buying.
Companies that offer a better service through computer systems need far less office space than they did before. For Dropbox, the solution was to remove men’s or women’s desks and turn the workplace into a “convening, collaborative area,” Houston said. Dropbox has carried out this motive while removing fees by lowering its actual property footprint by 80 percent.
Business leaders will not be able to reduce their workplace area as much as Dropbox has, but they should make certain to match their area necessities to a new reality in a world where plenty of office work can be completed at home.
4. Let your people choose when to come to the office:
Finally, I believe Dropbox’s policy that man’s or woman’s work ought to be accomplished at home and those ought to now no longer be required to return back into the workplace for a selected wide variety of days every week. The reason for this is that not all of the team members working on a project will be in the office on the same day.
I could allow crew members to agree on an afternoon when they will all meet together inside the workplace to strengthen their relationships.
Regardless of the changes brought about by the pandemic, where you locate your startup is important. Follow those four steps, and you’ll be able to make good use of the office space you’ve decided to keep.