Gone are the days when ascending the corporate ladder meant a swanky corner office in the penthouse. Nowadays, many executives skip the private space altogether, opting to toil away in office cubicles like their reports. The idea is to reinforce the feeling that everyone’s in this together, and to create a more egalitarian culture that rewards ideas instead of tenure and title. Here are a few of the top executives in the country who are currently working in cubicles just like the rest of us.
Back in the Carly Fiorina days, executives at HP had fancy private offices. They also had a barbed wire fence separating their BMWs from employees’ Fords and Chevys. (That is not a metaphor. There was an actual fence. We can only assume that ankle monitors were also considered.)
Those days, thank goodness, are over. Since Meg Whitman took over the top spot, the highest ranking workers at HP are housed in the same cubicles as everyone else. In fact, Whitman recently gave NBC’s Today Show a tour of her cube.
The only people who have offices at HP anymore are Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The company’s founders are remembered with a shrine — their offices, preserved just as they were when they founded the company.
Mayor Bloomberg famously redesigned the offices at City Hall into a “bullpen style” open plan office, to promote communication. Many who work there say they like the openness and ease of working in this environment.
“The bullpen really allowed free-flowing communication and efficiency,” said Edward Skyler, a former deputy mayor who sits close to the mayor. “It eliminated gatekeepers. You didn’t have to make an appointment to see someone.”
Not only do Intel execs sit with the hoi polloi, they use the same restrooms, parking spaces, and cafeterias as everyone else. (Did you even know that there were executive cafeterias at some companies? It sounds like the sort of thing Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock” would think up on a business retreat.)
Tony Hsieh is not the average CEO. He encourages his workers to “create fun with a little weirdness,” he writes bestselling management books that focus almost as much on happiness as customer service, and yes, he sits in a cubicle, just like the lowliest temp or brand-new CSR.