Urban Fold

Serendipitous Interactions: Good for Cities, Good for Companies

A rambling walk through New York City, with no destination in mind, reveals to FT columnist John Kay the value of unplanned social interactions - a value that's behind Yahoo’s recent policy limiting telecommuting.

Kay finds analogies between the vibrant city treasured by Jane Jacobs and the vibrant organization sought by Yahoo's Marissa Mayer in her recent "retreat from home teleworking." Both, he says, result from a recognition of the value in unplanned social interactions.

"The enthusiasts for the virtual organisation, like the designers of the planned city, seek to impose a structure of rational organisation on a system they understand only imperfectly. Teleworking is the equivalent in cyber space of the corridor of offices, each with its own closed door. Modern office architects have abandoned the corridor in favour of open spaces where communication does not require the deliberation involved in opening an office door, picking up a telephone or sending email. 'Communications and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side' – the memo is Yahoo’s, the sentiment is Jacobs’."

Full Story: New York’s wonder shows planners’ limits

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