Shaping behavior

SN&R’s new building creates positive work environment

Last Friday night, 120 News & Review staffers, freelancers, distribution drivers and our loved ones gathered in our new but still empty Del Paso Boulevard “green building.” We were enjoying a combination holiday party and introduction to the building, and there’s no doubt the building was a hit. The environmentally friendly aspects of our new digs include blue-jean insulation, skylights, cement floors, ceiling fans, dual-flush toilets, a waterless urinal, open spaces, solar tubes, LED parking-lot lights and even lighting controls that briefly shut down the lights during the party.

All of these improvements were on view for our staff and guests, but to my mind, one of the most innovative green aspects of the building went unnoticed: the 13 different offices in our 19,000-square-foot structure are all the same size. My space as CEO of the company is 120 square feet, the same size as the office next door belonging to my very capable executive assistant, Cathy Long. In fact, a few months ago, the move planners decided that Cathy and I should switch offices. No problem, because they were both the same size.

Similar office sizes reflect the understanding that every job and every person is important at SN&R. Good ideas can come and do come from everyone and anyone, and while it is important to have personal ambition, the focus should be on the group goal. And just as playing a small but important role on a winning team is more satisfying than playing a large part on a losing team, I believe a cooperative, supportive work environment trumps a high-paying but lousy job. There is not enough money in the world to pay me to work every day with people who think I’m a jerk, or at a place where my job causes others to suffer. Money just isn’t worth it.

In working to create a more sustainable world, we need to focus on many things, such as solar power, reducing oil consumption and eating more local food. One of the most important things we can do is to focus more on who we are and what we do than the things we own. Despite advances in energy conservation and creation, there’s just no way all 6 billion people on the planet can each live in their own 3,000-square-foot home, let alone move up to a larger, 4,000-square-foot house. We simply don’t have the resources.

Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” We may be just now moving in to our new, green building on Del Paso Boulevard, but for us, it’s already shaping the good things that are to come from SN&R.