One of the biggest challenges facing tech startups these days is creating a workplace where people want to work, especially those much-sought-after tech employees. Google is the gold standard example that is held up so often for comparison. But you don’t have to be Google to create a fun, comfortable place where people want to come to work.

In reality, this is not the hard part of creating a great tech workplace.  Making it fun is easy. Finding a place to make fun – that is the hard part.

When we sat down to establish Zeeto Media in San Diego, the biggest challenge we faced was finding a space that we could build out to accommodate the open, collaborative kind of workspace we wanted.

Building owners, especially in the more traditional buildings downtown, are hesitant to make tenant improvements such as knocking down all of the walls to open up the space because they are not sure their next potential tenant will want that kind of office. Long term, it is safer for them to find another tenant and keep cubicles and walled off offices that follow the more traditional layout of an office.

While we understand these building owners want to mitigate risk, we are also worried about growing San Diego’s tech community and, by extension, tech jobs if companies like ours can’t find a place to call home.

With very few office space locations, companies will begin to look elsewhere in California or other states to locate their startups and more seasoned businesses.

This problem has not gone unnoticed by the local business leaders. San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Sanders and Downtown San Diego Partnership President Kris Michell have both acknowledged that we have to do more to create this kind of space in downtown and other areas of our region. Areas like East Village offer promise and both Sanders and Michell have been strong advocates of that as a solution.

But we would like to suggest something a little more outside the box. We believe in the basic principle that supply follows demand. If there is more demand for open layout office space in San Diego then there will be more open layout office space in San Diego.

It doesn’t just have to be just startups and tech companies who are asking for this kind of space. Based on some recent survey research, an open format could actually be beneficial for any workplace.

A recent Gallup poll found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.

Creating an open, collaborative atmosphere where friendships can easily flourish and people can work closely with one another is a way to foster friendships that could help businesses be more productive.

Think how a traditional business could improve performance and productivity by adopting a more open culture. And if more businesses adopt this kind of culture, more office space for this kind of culture will be available.

San Diego is on the cutting edge of so many technological advances. Revamping the workplace isn’t that high tech, but it could transform this region’s ability to stay on that cutting edge.

Goss and Marcin’s commentary has been lightly edited for style, grammar and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

Stephan Goss

Stephan Goss is the CEO of Zeeto Media.

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