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Why Richard Branson has never had an office

Necker islandCourtesy of John Dill, MaiTai GlobalRichard Branson on Necker Island.

Office design experts have some fundamental rules for what constitutes a great office — among them, there should be walls and a door.

Billionaire Richard Branson, however, has chosen to think outside the corporate office.

“There are five main places I have worked day-in, day-out over the years, and you will notice that an office is nowhere to be seen on the list,” writes Richard Branson in a recent Virgin blog post. “I’ve never had a proper desk, never worked out of an office, and certainly never clocked in.”

In his early days, Branson put out his Student magazine from a family friend’s basement and then a church crypt. He later ran his Virgin empire out of a houseboat in a London canal near Virgin offices, then his family home in London, and, most recently, Necker Island, Branson’s private Caribbean island, where he spends half the year.

Throughout his more than 50-year career, all of Branson’s flexible workplaces have had something crucial in common: people could come and go as they pleased.

Of working in his friend’s basement, Branson writes, “It was chaotic and cramped, but we made the most of it, and the close proximity made for lots of interesting collaborations.”

In a previous post on LinkedIn, Branson explained that he never liked locking himself away for hours in a separate office to work out plans — always having people around allows him to to bounce ideas off them and frequently inspires his work.

Even when Branson was growing Virgin into the successful brand it is today, he says he lived, worked, and played in that houseboat and conducted meetings while he was babysitting.

“Some of our happiest days, and greatest business deals, took place on the houseboat,” Branson says.

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