I’ve been a road warrior most of my career, in 30 years I’ve had an office with a door for less than two years (during the last millenium!) and a fixed desk for only short periods of time.

This has always given me a strange opinon about what are good and bad places to be working. A pair of Bose headphones on a plane and I can get a massive amount done! I found working on the Champs Elysee difficult because of the constant distractions.

Why am I thinking of this? Well, were looking at a place for us to work with clients on new business models. It seems that everyone has a different idea about what we need and what would be the most productive type of space.

And then I read this, from Adrian Newey’s book on the subject of working in a Norman Foster designed office.

“To me the new building was oppressive in its ordered greyness. Reminiscent of something from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, it featured rows and rows of desks with nothing out of line. Built by the Empire. Not an environment in which I, among others, found it easy to be creative.

When we first moved in, we weren’t even allowed glasses of water at our desk, and absolutely no tea or coffee or personal effects. Somebody pointed out that it was probably illegal to deny workers water at their desk, so he had to relent on that, but not on the tea or coffee, and as far as personal effects went, you were allowed one family picture on your desk but it had to be stored in a drawer overnight.

Meanwhile, if you were part of the workforce, you had to enter the building walking down a circular staircase into an underground corridor with a grey floor and white walls; it felt like you were entering some Orwellian film. You’d then walk back up another circular staircase into the middle of the building, to your workstation. I hated walking through the corridor, so instead I would walk along the grass verge, then cross the inner road and enter through the race bay where the trucks were parked.

I was spotted doing this by the constantly watched bank of CCTV monitors in the basement and sent an email warning me that if I did not revert to using the prescribed route into the office I would face ‘an internal examination’. Crikey.”

(from “How to Build a Car: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Formula 1 Designer” by Adrian Newey)

He’s referring to one of the most expensive and carefully designed buildings in Europe!