The office speaks volumes about an organisation. Perhaps the most remarkable expression of a hierarchical structure embodied in a building is the headquarters of the Bank of America in San Francisco. 'The higher up the organisation you go the higher up the building you go,' says Alexi Marmot, co-author of Understanding Offices. To underline the greater importance of the folks on the top floors, their office windows are cleaned twice as often as those below.
California is also the home of a strong counter-trend - not just away from hierarchy but away from centralised offices altogether. In Los Angeles, government organisations, keen to cut energy consumption, are encouraging some staff to work from home several days a week, thereby reducing commuting. New Californian legislation already in the pipeline will compel organisations to have a significant percentage of their workforces working from home by the turn of the century, says Nigel Moulton, European product marketing manager for Cisco, one of the leading suppliers of internetworking products 'By 1 January 1997, any company employing more than 1,000 people must have 10% of them working from home three days a week.' The $64,000 question is whether others - in Europe for instance - will follow suit.