It’s easy for an office to suck.
In the corporate world, think Dilbert, where the office is characterized as a soul-crushing cubicle farm populated by distracting or under-performing coworkers and incompetent or self-interested bosses — just all-around self-perpetuating suck. A small business office can be just as bad. Maybe there is less room for failure, necessitating a higher level of office functionality, but many of the same frictions are there.
These frictions annoy people off so much that their frustration creates fallout. Instead of light-hearted socialization around the water cooler (or dinner table — we all know that what happens at work doesn’t always stay at work), you get awkward, agitated silence, or, just slightly better, a therapeutic release of steam. If you work alone or in a sufficiently small team, friction can easily grow from creating inefficiency to creating waste. Either way, it’s not ideal. In fact, it’s just bad: Bad for business and bad for people.
For the record, not all offices suck. A lot of fuss has been made about the workplaces designed by companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and for good reason. If you have the skill set and the temperament, surveys suggest that it’s much better to work at a top-tier tech company flush with cash than, say, RadioShack (NYSE:RSH), which was rated one of the worst places to work in 2013 by Glassdoor.