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Why Every Startup CEO Should Not Have an Office

Open-Plan OfficeOpen-Plan Office

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question: “What important lessons can transform every entrepreneur’s business for the better?” is written by Phil Shawe, co-chief executive of TransPerfect.

What important lessons can transform every entrepreneur’s business for the better?

One way every entrepreneur can improve their business is to build trust between management and employees, and the most effective way to do that is through transparency.

As a CEO, I go out of my way to educate team members on how growth and profits translates into benefits for all stakeholders. Growth and profits create interesting career paths, allow for investment in training, drive the business into new markets, and grow product/service lines to the benefit of employees and clients alike. Once people understand this – and buy into it – they naturally want to perform better.

Creating a transparent environment in which all employees know financial goals and how others are performing encourages internal competition and gets employees to do their best. Obviously, this needs to be managed in a healthy and supportive way, but no one wants to see their division; their sales numbers; or their performance metrics lagging the company average.

Inspiring Productivity through Shared Enthusiasm and Collaborative Environments

I have been blessed to enjoy an ever-growing career in entrepreneurial management that spans over 20 years, and involves managing the day-to-day operations of TransPerfect, which grew from two employees in 1992 to 4,000 employees today.

One might think I sit in a stylishly decorated office behind a closed door, with an army of administrative professionals outside guarding my daily schedule. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I share an office other CEOs would typically reserve for themselves, with a team of 4 to 5 people at all times. One reason is because I think this enhances productivity. But more importantly, if you are going to lead an entrepreneurial company, you need to bring your “game face” to work just as much as do your employees. And if you are behind a closed door, it’s more difficult to share your energy and enthusiasm with the team.

One may argue that as CEO, I often have the need for private conversations. However, there is almost always a conference room, another office, or even a coffee shop available for those occasions. The benefits of managing my team, and the company in general, in a fully open and transparent environment far outweighs the inconvenience of finding another location when a meeting topic truly calls for a private session.

Does transparency open you up to issues if someone on the team chooses to leave the company, and take this knowledge with them? Perhaps. But the benefits far outweigh the risks and disadvantages.