Do we need an office to be creative and productive?
I often like to play a thought experiment: imagine the room you're in is now suddenly in Manhattan, New York. Now try and imagine it's a sand dune outside of the window and now a tropical island. The understanding of such macro environment yields an experience that affect our most subconscious psyche and thought patterns. Your prefrontal cortex will build a reality of its own borrowing your mental library of stereotypes, emotions, and understandings of such location even if you’ve never been to the place before. This belief you have built up will alter your behavior and brain utility in the most subconscious level. Let us take the New York apartment for example. The perception of a downtown area should more or less yield a pressuring emotion that encourage us to feel productive, urgent and alert. It is only my assumption, but the take away is that we all have a perception and definition of an environment, and that will dictate our behavior basing on that perception.
Mythology and stories give us definition and build us subconscious visual queues; how the hero interacts with an environment will create a subconscious mental model for us. This is an extremely powerful effect. A desert will mean differently for a farmer, a Star Wars fan, or a 3 year old child. A child does not have sufficient association with a desert, and it may end up being a boring experience s/he has to endure during the time there. A farmer would associate a desert with work or anxiety? A Star Wars fan, on the other hand, would interpret a desert as something incredible, adventurous, and epic as seen in the A New Hope episode. How we associate our environment to be will motivate us into that direction of behavior and mental development.
When I’m in LA, movie posters are everywhere, and all I want to talk about are actors, entertainment, parties, etc. When I’m in the Silicon Valley, technology posters are everywhere, and all I want to talk about here is project ideas, building a team, company management styles, and etc. There is not much to do in Palo Alto, there are trees, lakes and golden grass fields and not much more; it is a beautiful secluded world in my opinion, and seclusion could be a big part of innovation I feel. Research has concluded that a 5 person brainstorm session is more effective than a 8 person session. 3 person brainstorm session is more effective than a 5 person session. Brainstorm session is a social interaction activity. Since it is social, it is often led by extroverts who like to think out loud. It often makes introverts who may have a different idea start thinking towards that direction of thoughts. Solitary forces us to assume a lot of things from our subconscious bank of information that we gather from our daily events, fictional messages, and personal beliefs, which sometimes spark innovation that’s free of social conformity. Is that why technology companies must move to the Silicon Valley? I’m sure there are countless reasons, but I’m sure Silicon Valley will not be how it is today if there isn’t an ocean to the west, if it is as big as New York, if it is as culturally diversed as Los Angles, and etc.
Choosing a city, a location to work or to live, is an extremely delicate art. You must understand your personal subconscious perception/association, culture of the environment and the people. Sometimes it may not be about finding a location that’s similar to who you are, but it is about finding a complimentary location that spells a perfect marriage to alter your mind and behavior to an ideal state in order to achieve greatness.