Seth Godin: Goodbye to the office

Author: Alan Mellor, almellor

An interesting post (as ever) from Seth Godin this week, titled Goodbye to the office.

I completely agree with his conclusions. But I can add one. Namely ‘What is it that you actually do during your meetings – and does that have to be done face to face now?

Yuuguu was started because we observed the same facts as Seth, and came to the same conclusions. The groupthink says we go to the office to work with other people. The reality is that the interaction is more limited than you would suppose.

Even when we are actually face to face with a colleague, does it really have to be done in the fully expensed, facility-maintained, air-conditioned, water-coolered sunk cost we know as ‘The Office’?


When we looked at it, our answer was ‘No’.


Professional work has a rhythm. The team agrees goals. We break the work into chunks. We decide ( or fight or cherry pick! ) who does what. We do it – largely alone, with an occasional helping hand from a colleague. We fit the pieces into the jigsaw. We ship. The rhythm starts again.

When we looked at what we actually did during the ‘meeting up’ parts of this cycle, we found that only a small fraction of our meeting time needed to be face to face. The bulk of it is a throwback from an earlier, less-technological era.

We found that we were meeting up to simply point at things on each other’s computer screens. To chat. To have tiny, ad-hoc discussions. To ask for, and offer help. To physically lend a hand by working somebody else’s computer keyboard and mouse.

So we thought ‘what if we could make all that happen over the internet? Would that change anything?’

Pretty quickly, we realised we could change everything about the way people work. Once you realise that for much of your previous face-to-face time, you were only there because tools like Yuuguu did not exist, you can free yourself into a far more dynamic organisation.

Waterwheel - Cromford

We no longer need to be situated next to the drive shaft from the water wheel to go about our business. It is time to recognise that the ‘factory work mentality’ is just that: a mentality. Hundreds of years of familiarity with the safe, old ground of doing things the safe, old way.

But times have moved on. There are now better ways.

Yuuguu is not just about saving money in office costs (it does) and travel (it does), nor is it just about saving time travelling (which it also does) and getting decisions made faster and better (which it does very well). It is about finally breaking the 21st century workforce away from a 19th century mindset that frankly we can now do better, faster and cheaper.

And Seth Godin seems to agree. I don’t know about you, but I take that as quite an endorsement that our foundational ideas were on the right track.

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