• Register
Return to: Home > Comments > It’s a Square life, and that’s a good thing!

It’s a Square life, and that’s a good thing!

Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity


Do you have what is often called a ‘Bucket List’? A list of things you really want to do or places to go, before you die? Well I do, and I have been lucky enough to see, do or go to a significant number of them already. I still haven’t been on an African Safari, probably one of the first I put on my list. Nor been to the tombs of Petra. But I have been able to visit most of the other wonders of the ancient world as well as many of the modern world. And I’ve taken part in several events that were also on the list.

Now, while training for a marathon is seldom the ‘fun’ part, I have been very fortunate over recent years to run through a lot of iconic venues as a result. Red Square, Trafalgar Square, Tiananmen Square, Times Square, Grand Place (Brussels), St Peter’s Square and St Mark’s Square (from where I am actually writing this blog).

I could ask what all these locations have in common and, no it’s not the name ‘Square’, as in Brussels it’s not a square but a ‘Place’!

It’s the people.

People have for decades, in some cases centuries, congregated to do business, meet friends, be seen and to ‘see the sights’. Seldom do you see someone on their own and if you do they’re often waiting for someone or for something to happen.

I do enjoy people watching, like I am now. Especially with a nice leisurely coffee (although these particular ones are rather expensive) or maybe, in the evening, a glass of wine. I too am not alone in this. My wife is with me now and I know, as I look around, that I am one of many people watchers here.

Sure, it helps that the sun is out and it’s warm, and the buildings around here spectacular, but regardless of the weather or the architecture, this is something most humans do at times.

“No man is an Island entire of itself” wrote John Donne. Yes, I know Paul Simon wrote “I am a rock, I am an Island” but that was about the loss of love, not the way forward.

In short, humans are by nature sociable animals. We need interaction to thrive. Positive interaction to flourish further. We go to the ‘square’ near us – to see, be seen and socialise.

So why, at work, do we so often burrow ourselves away in our little burrows (offices) and not talk directly to anyone from 9am until 5pm except by e-mail, text or phone?

I know that many Praxity member firms have dispensed with offices. Partners, even Managing Partners, occupy desks in a general, open space. Yes, there are small privacy screens and computer monitors obscuring the view, but most occupants can see others around them. The reports on this are generally very positive. Sociability improves and, although this can be a double-edged sword, in general it increases esprit de corps, which is good. Thus, efficiency and effectiveness can also improve.

In short, most people work better in ‘social’ areas. Just think about where they tend to congregate in ‘conventional’ offices. The water cooler or the coffee machine. Well, why not make the whole office one big water cooler meeting space?

I know that many people say they prefer their own space and effectively like to put blinkers on to “just get on with their work”. And there are times when we all need to isolate ourselves so we can focus fully on a task. That’s why all the offices I mentioned also have break out rooms of various sizes, to allow individuals or teams to focus on their goals uninterrupted. These are essential, but perhaps should only be used when genuinely required and not occupied permanently to avoid interaction.

Can you re-think you own work space? Where’s the square for you and your colleagues to interact and generate great thoughts?

Top Content

    The UK: uncertain waves rule Britannia

    he UK’s accountancy profession is currently in a period of much uncertainty. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has released its review into the listed audit market which could cause the biggest shake-up the profession has seen in years, the Kingman Review has described the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) as not being fit for purpose and called for it to be replaced. All the while the country remains in a deadlock on Brexit negotiations.

    read more

    Views from the Eurozone

    With Brexit looming, populist governments gaining footholds in a number of countries and movements such as the Yellow Jacket protests in France, 2018 was anything but a quite year for the eurozone. Here leaders report to the IAB on their markets.

    read more

    Eastern promise and how to find it

    With China rising as a global power, Jonathan Minter spoke with ShineWing’s Zhang Ke and Marco Carlei at the World Congress of Accountants 2018 in Sydney, to discuss the cultural challenges that occur when Chinese networks look beyond their border, and the dividends available for those who overcome them.

    read more

    Spain: looking to widen demand

    As Spanish accounting professionals prepare for new audit regulations, the Paul Golden asks what they need to do individually and at firm level to maintain and increase demand for their services.

    read more
Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.