Season 6 of AMC’s Mad Men is wrapping up on Sunday, which makes this a great time to talk about one of our favorite aspects of the show, the office at Sterling Cooper. As a commercial real estate company, we are always intrigued by the way companies design their office workspaces. Believe it or not, the design of an office can tell you a lot about the culture and philosophy of a company.
The office of Sterling Cooper has evolved over the years, and we’ve been there to watch the company have its ups and downs through the 1960’s. Early in the show, the office is comprised of mostly private offices, with only the secretaries occupying the open space. All of the major pitches, meetings and deals happen behind closed doors. The employees spend most of their time working alone in their own offices, trying to come up with their next brilliant idea.
The interesting part of the evolution of the Mad Men office is how quickly the office begins to foreshadow trends we see today in commercial real estate. Creative’s new open, collaborative space gives them a place to come together to write clever copy and design stunning visuals for the company’s ads. This is something we see a lot more of today. More and more companies are creating spaces where employees can come together and collaborate instead of sitting alone bouncing ideas off the walls of their cubicles. The more open-style conference room with large interior windows is also something we see a lot more of today to promote more transparency within the company (see what I did there – transparency? It’s a play on words). The office of Sterling Cooper has also begun to incorporate a lot more color later in the show. In the real working world, we’ve definitely moved away from the gray monotone offices of the 80’s and 90’s, and are seeing more color re-enter the office as millennials bring their personal flair to the workplace.
The biggest change since the days of the Mad Men office is more people working out in the open to collaborate with co-workers and generate new ideas. Companies have realized that they get the best out of their employees when they work together to be greater than the sum of their parts. As much as we’d like to, we can’t all be Don Draper, coming up with brilliant ideas alone while lying on our office couch and “sipping” rye.
Image credit: AMC TV