Jack Dorsey, Square, and an Open Plan

New York Times recently wrote about Square, Jack Dorsey’s San Francisco-based company with a completely open office.

“The headquarters of the start-up Square would be the absolute worst place to play hide-and-seek. There are no offices. Executives sit in open cubicles. All of the conference rooms, large and small, are surrounded by walls of clear glass. The only real place to hide, thankfully, would be the toilet.

This openness might seem odd given what Square does. It manages more than $2 billion a year in credit card transactions made through mobile phones. But the company is set up this way by Jack Dorsey, Square’s chief executive and co-founder, for a reason: to promote trust and transparency in its employees, which it hopes will translate to its customers. Design, he believes, has the power to determine a distinct mind-set, something he needs if Square is to succeed as a mobile payment system.”

Depending on your viewpoint, that either sounds amazing or like hell. That said, we can glean something important about office design from Square.

Square’s offices were designed with the purpose of influencing employee attitudes and work habits

If your office doesn’t attempt to create certain behaviors in your staff, your ‘Office Design’ would probably be more aptly called ‘Office Decorating’. While this might sound like some scheme, office design can and should be used to create positive outcomes for your staff and company. You might not agree with Mr. Dorsey that his chosen layout does the job, but his desire to use design for a purpose other than looks should be applauded.

Square’s San Francisco office was designed by Studio O+A. More images available here.