Office Evolution

Famous leaders share 8 funny, inspiring quotes on the power of the office

“I don't really have a desk actually — I move myself to wherever the biggest problem is in Tesla.”

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Not to get too philosophical, but what is an office? Is it a place that you clock into every day to do work? Or is it the people you work with who inspire you to do amazing things and think of great ideas?

Questions such as these will be on many people’s minds as a good portion of office workers continue to use their homes as an office. While there aren’t any answers yet, you can reflect on your feelings about offices with the following eight quotes from famous business leaders.

8. Steve Jobs spoke about the importance of human connection when coming up with ideas.

"There's a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas. … If a building doesn't encourage that, you'll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that's sparked by serendipity.” — Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs in Walter Isaacson’s biography.

7. Elon Musk discussed his tendency to hot desk when things got busy.

"I always move my desk to wherever — I don't really have a desk actually — I move myself to wherever the biggest problem is in Tesla. I really believe that one should lead from the front lines, and that's why I'm here." — Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk during a 2017 earnings call.

6. Oprah Winfrey described one case where she’d rather just talk on the phone.

“You should just tell me whatever it is on the phone and save yourself the flight. Whatever it is, I’m going to be more inclined to do it if you just ask me on the phone. Because if you come all the way here, if I don’t want to do it, I’m still not gonna do it. And then you would have wasted your time, and I’m going to feel bad, and you’re going to feel bad.” — Oprah Winfrey in Fast Company.

5. Sundar Pichai laments the absence of offices.

“Some of our greatest innovations were the result of chance encounters in the office — and it’s clear this is something many of us don’t want to lose.” — Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in a May letter to employees.

“The thing is I don't want to die in my office. I want to die on the beach.” — Jack Ma

4. Sara Blakely talks about her office being an oasis.

“If I start to feel stressed or anxious, I will take time to go alone in my office. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes, and sometimes I just excuse myself to go to the bathroom and I take a few minutes to breathe. I find since practicing yoga as much as I do, there’s such a healing power in breath.” — Spanx founder and CEO Sara Blakely in The Cut.

3. Jack Welch urged leaders to get out of their bubbles and see people where they are.

“Get the hell out of the office. Get out and touch the people. Listen, listen, listen. Love ‘em to death and touch them, get inside their skin. Excite them about what they're doing. Give purpose to their jobs and their lives. That's what this is all about. We spend most of our waking hours at these jobs. Make them fun, make them exciting, and reward the hell out of the ones who do the job you ask them to do." — Former GE CEO Jack Welch during the 2016 Presidents Summit.

2. Meg Whitman talks about what is lost when meetings are held over video.

“Even though Zoom is great, I can’t really read the body language in the room. And that has always been an important part of how I gauge who is doing what to whom and how things are working.” — Former HP CEO and current Quibi CEO Meg Whitman in The New York Times.

1. Jack Ma quipped about the limitations of the office.

“The thing is I don't want to die in my office. I want to die on the beach.” Alibaba founder and former CEO Jack Ma from the Charlie Rose show.

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