7 Office Design Ideas

From the home office to the enterprise, our environment affects the way we work
Office Design Gallery

With the idea of renovate our office and more interaction area, I visited the Microsoft R&D Center in Grand Gateway, where my good friend Eric and Helen work.

Eric is exactly the right person to turn to. He is very (if not over) sensitive to details, and is conscious about the impact of the small things. We toured from the 9th floor to the 8th, and here were our findings.

Writable Walls with/without Pens

There are many glass walls in the Microsoft office. Some of them are full of diagram and notes, and others are absolutely clean? What is the difference? Eric’s answer was: some walls are close to a holder of pens, while there are no pens nearby to others. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Shutdown the Big White Fluorescent Lamps

Although fluorescent lamps on the top provide sunlight like consistent lighting, it does not provide an intimate atmosphere. Replace it with desktop lamps – that is a much better solution – to create the “deep night” type of working environment.

Height of Cubicle

In most modern offices, we have cubicles. The height of cubicles are always a hot topic to discuss. The UX team of Microsoft removed all their cubicle walls, so people can see each other face to face. It is said that the result is great.

I would tend to agree on this approach, but would add that we need to improve communication within a team, and may also want to intentionally cut communication between teams. The idea case is, lower the cubicle for people in the same team, and raise cubicle walls between teams. Ideally, a team is as small as 4 – 7 people, so they can be put into a bigger cubicle group, instead of two rows of cubicles.

Useless of Available/In Use Indicator

Nothing is more effective than bow a little bit and see whether there is people in it or not. The little sliding badge showing In Use or Available is something no one will use.

Conference Room Booking System

On each door, there are papers printed out (maybe by Ayi in the morning) showing that day’s schedule. It is the dream equipment I thought about when I worked in Microsoft, but it turned out to be not practical. It is hard to book the meeting room on the same day, since the paper have been printed out in the morning.

Further more, Eric argues that when a team cannot settle the room usage within the team using an interpersonal way, and they have to rely on a system, something is already wrong. I completely agree.

We should never use a room booking system – just grab a room that is available. If there is no room, just chat with the people using the room to see if they can cut the meeting short.

Every Meeting Room Needs a Clock

The presence of a clock is an effective way to keep meetings short. In places where you need people to take more time communicating, remove the clock.

Ensure at Least One Person can See the Screen of Others

This is absolutely not my idea – it is Eric’s. He suggests that although we should keep privacy of everyone as much as possible, but it is also important that from one direction, at least one other people can have a chance to glance what you are working on, so people can be more productive. This is very debatable. At least what I believe is, screen privacy is very important. We should leverage other ways like shared goal, and consistent reporting, communication to solve productivity issues. Anyway, just list this idea here, and maybe some people may like it.

Jian Shuo Wang’s Talk on Lunch 2.0

Let me briefly record the transcript of my talk on Lunch 2.0 meetup. I talked very fast, and may be only used 3 minutes. It was supposed to talk about my business baixing.com. But as always, we want to be low profile about what we are doing, I talked about something instead. It is basically based on a Chinese blog article about entrepreneurship I recently wrote.

I started by saying “I am Jian Shuo wang, CEO of Baixing.com. It is a online classified service that provide housing, jobs, second-hand, services, and community. Since the business model of classified is so simply, let me talk about three things I learn from 4 years of my company”. Tomorrow is actually the 4th year anniversary of baixing.

Then I said about the first learning:

First, Focus. After doing many different things, the CEO of blogcn.com, a blog hosting company, to claim that he spent 4 years to learn that blogcn.com should really focus to blog. That is also what I learn. Baixing is all about doing classified well, as Dianping.com is created to do dianping well (reviews). Many company started with an idea to do something, but it is too easy for us to forget what were are supposed to do.

That was my short first point. The second:

The second is, cost. We discovered a magic formula that no one else in this world every understand: Profit = Revenue – Cost. (laughter). In good times, we only care about revenue, because founders look at valuation of the company. $1 in revenue may make $20 difference in valuation. They don’t care to spend $10 to get $1 revenue. Today, luckily, everyone is getting back to the essential of business: spend $1 to get $1.10 back. That is the reason we look at cost.

Then I talked about the third learning.

Third learning, simplicity.

We want to add more features, but never really understand the cost of it. We are all tech companies, and we know to add a comment feature is just few hours of coding. But when we put it online, we learn a new word: spam. Then we need to hire people to moderate it. If we are talking about people, we are talking about hiring, firing (if you are “lucky”), creating report, review report, and everything related to people management. You need to bring people out for dinner, and think about moral building. Back to feature. Someone may want to delete a comment…

CDE!” my audience laughed.

Right. Like CDE.. Then you need to create a cool concept called user account, and they need to signup, set password, change password, and stupid people like ourselves may even forget passwords…

Think again before adding many feature.

OK. That is the three things I learn from my past 4 years as an entrepreneur: focus, cost and simplicity. Thanks

Pretty short talk, isn’t it? I guess it is just three minutes.

Thoughts about Being a Leader

Here are some random thoughts of recent inspirations, for my own tips about being a leader.

  • Never confusing people by acting as both consultant and manager. People get confused when they use a manager as a consultant, since they can hardly tell which instruction comes from the person with consultant hat (suggestions), or from the person with manager hat (an order). When combined with the two, people will ignore your “must” list, or take your suggestions too seriously. The best way to do is, do not try to be a consultant, although you can.
  • Use your knowledge as a way to set goal, instead of help people doing it. This is similiar to my first point. Being able to do it myself is good, but don’t try to do it, or even try too hard to tell people how to do it. Use knowledge as a powerful tool to set reasonable, clear, complete, actionable, specifcm, messurable, time-bound goals, instead of going into details to tell people what to do. If you do check all the details, you get frustrated, and your team is frustrated, and they tend to rely on your decisions, which is bad for an organization.
  • Don’t be a working place and a training center at the same time. Training center is about changing a person, or improving a person, or empower a person. Company is all about making things happen with the right human resources. So the company’s goal is to select the right person, instead of creating the right person. If the chemistry between a person and a company does not match, the best thing to do is to find a better match, for both the company and the person, instead of changing a person, or even harder, to change a company.

Kijiji Expanding Office

Kijiji is expanding to the 19th floor of the same building. The same day last year, we moved into our current office, and the new life in the office started from Jan 4, 2007.

One year later, we expanded from the 18th floor to the 19th, and we are looking forward to a completely new start.

Happy New Year to my brothers and sisters in Kijiji.

Successful Kijiji Meetup

Had a wonderful Kijiji meetup today with about 7 users. Every time I have a Kijiji meetup with users, I feel very happy and confident.

As the head of a website, millions of page view or 20-30 thousands listing per day does not tell the whole story. Only by sitting down face to face with users can I really understand the values of the site, and the problems we need to solve.

It is amazing to hear the story that a girl got 100+ phone calls on one day with 14 hours of phone conversation that day, or another user who sell our her 3 rooms of stock within one week (under the pressure that her landlord ask her to move within half month). That stories are wonderful.

Also, it is pretty consistent about what users care among different users. It is pretty clear for us, after the talk, to set our priorities.

Everything is just wonderful.

In case you are a reader of Kijiji (and of cause a reader of my blog), thank you a lot for being with us. That makes all the effort we made meaningful.


P.S. This hidden note is to YLF fellows who follows the YLF Blog Feed, I saw an article about June Mei here: Bloomberg’s interpreter’s path to China.

P.S. 2: Our reader and my friend Elliott Ng started a blog called cnreviews.com. I do agree about his comment about one-way mirror in his Inspiration blog.

On the Top of 8 Meters…

Last weekend, I organized the team to attend the outdoor training in Shajiabang, Changshu, Jiangsu Province.

On of the interesting practice to challenge one’s courage is to jump over a 1.5 meter gap 8 meters above the ground. I jumped.

Pictures below are taken by York and Victor.

For more pictures of the outdoor training, please see the photo album:

Shajianbang.York (photo by York Liang)

Shajiabang.Victor (photo by Xiaoliang Pan)

About the Trianing

The training was facilitated by Shanghai Freely Training. The founder, Twins, is an active member in Smiling Library. Very nice person. The training was a huge success. I would highly recommend them if you want to build the team and increase communication between the team members. Blogbus attended the training and Hengge recommended it to me.

View before May Holiday

This is the view outside my window – the view before the May holiday. The cloud came and rain is not far away.

Photograph by Vince Zhen

In the middle is the Shentong Plaza. Before it are the buildings in Shanghai Jiaotong University. You can see the playing ground on the left and the libary (the white tall building). On the right is the People’s Square area….

Kijiji SJTU Office

Yesterday, I posted some picture of the view from my window in my Kijiji. It seems many people from SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) are interested in the view of the old campus. So today, let me post some pictures about our lovely office of Kijiji. I enjoy working in this office very much. These pictures were taken in Jan before we moved into the Kijiji office.

Today during a conversation with someone in the industry, we agreed there is not too much secret for a startup (like Kijiji), because it is rarely about a secret, it is all about the execution. So this is the secret place we work at. So I proudly presents the Kijiji SJTU office!

Before we Moved in

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

The First Day

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

© Jian Shuo Wang, in Kijiij SJTU office

P.S. After we moved into that building, so many people asked me how to get into it. It is not impossible, but it is hard.

Busy Recently

I am busy recently, and may be slow (or no) response to your comments, or write more “qualified” blog posts. I hope I can get back to it in several days.

If I could change my MSN display name, I may change it to “rumors and rumors”. More and more rumor appears around Kijiji and around me. :-) The price to be a public person is, there is always rumors, and personal attack everywhere. One of the essential skill to survive is, always separate the name in media from yourself, as if they are talking about another person – actually they ARE talking about another person who happen to be with the same name. :-) This kind of seperation is key

Kijiji New Platform Went Online

Kijiji China platform http://www.kijiji.cn went online today. We had the wonderful celebration party for the months of hard work of everyone. Very excited about that. We went to hot spot today, for the important date, and drank a lot. Great team and great deliverable!

P.S. In my previous article The World of Different Rules, I saw comments like “I am a strong beliver of” (my rules), or others. Unfortunately, you didn’t catch what I was saying. Anyway, no one can change anyone else. I won’t try.

New Year for Everyone in the team

What a nice idea to start the new year for Kijiji with two days of briefing and training session. I just get back home from the full day event. It is already 0:50 AM the next day (I will adjust the posting time a little bit to make this entry fall into March 1), but I feel so excited to be the part of the team and see the growth of a young and passionate team. Hope I can get up in time tomorrow morning.

P.S. The training center at 17th Floor of the Shanghai No. 1 Department Store New Tower is a pretty decent place to host small scale training. Highly recommend – to find a good place at the Metro station of the People’s Square at the Nanjing road is not always easy.

Have a good night (day, afternoon, evening – depending where you are), everyone.

Craigslist’s Success

Hi my readers, I need some help for you. I am thinking hard about the success of craigslist in San Francisco and other cities in U.S. I just read an article on Craigslist written by a reporter from 21st Century Econoics Report. He visited SFO and interviewed Craigslist and created the nice report. (It is one of my favorite newspaper that I will buy at the news stand twice everyweek).

For those who has used Craigslist or highly rely on it, would you please help me to list top 5 most attractive things in Craigslist or the top 5 reasons why Craigslist is so successful? Thanks.

Biggest Kijiji Logo So Far

This is maybe the largest Kijiji logo we painted so far in Kijiji China.

Update November 16, 2005

More information about the pictures.

I took the picture in Anji in Zhejiang province. It was an outing with Kijiji team. We brought projector and projected the slide to the mountains or village houses. The last picture was the Chinese version of the Kijiji logo on the mountain. It is HUGE. Although on the picture, it is not as bright or big as it really seemed to be.

Kijiji links

Kijiji China

Kijiji Canada

Kijiji Spain

Kijiji Germany

Kijiji England

Kijiji France

Kijiji Australia

Kijiji Switzerland

Kijiji Poland

Kijiji Turkey

Kijiji Italy

Kijiji Taiwan

Kijiji Japan

Kijiji New Zealands

Kijiji Australia

Kijiji South Africa

Kijiji Ireland

Kijiji Wales

Kijiji Scotland

End of update


Kijiji Logo on roof


Kijiji logo on wall


Kijiji from people


Logo on mountains

Jian Shuo Wang at Kijiji China

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. I have something to announce. :-)

One month ago, I made a serious decision.

I decided to leave the company I have worked for 6 years. Microsoft is a great company. I enjoyed the wonderful time I had in the last 6 years. I experienced roles from engineer to business development manager, from developer to tester, from project manager to consultant, from trainer to team manager, from community buildup to partner buildup. The six years mean more for me than others. To be honest, it was not as painful a decision as I thought. I wrote in my farewell email: “The fruits don’t feel the pain when picked up after completely mature in autumn”.

I miss my friends there, the days and night I spent in the Metro Tower and everything I was so passionate. I started new things every year and every year is a fresh start for me. Six-year is not long, but it is by no means short in one’s life. I don’t know how many six years I have. I own deep appreciation to this company and to everyone I had obliged to work with. Now, I call myself an ex-Microsoft employee. :-)

The second day I left, I joined another great company: eBay. I will run the eBay’s new venture, Kijiji, in China. I was deeply moved when I talked with great people in eBay. Their passion to help people, the highest level of ethics, and their passion attracted me a lot. Kijiji is a online classified business, and it has the potential to change everyone’s life in China. I see more Ayi got their job via classified (although there should be some ways other than online to reach them); I see people in the same neighborhood stepping out of their doors and starting to meet each other based on common hobby (just as Kijiji, “village” in Swahili implies); I see more arts and gathering become prosperous in Shanghai, in Beijing and in all the cities we launched the site… It is an exciting new world for me to explore. I am honored to be able to lead the team to do something meaningful for people. The passion is there. I can feel it. There is something in common between Kijiji and this blog. Just like I built up this community with passion and the willingness to share, I believe Kijiji will be a community with greater impact.

I didn’t announce it immediately after the change. After about one month, I am pretty sure I figured out where I am going and feel comfortable to share the news with everyone. The senior management team supports me to continue the blog, and I definitely will. As you may feel, I wasn’t able to update this blog as often as before (I missed three days or four in the last month). If there is a post, you may find it posted pretty late (1:00 AM in the morning?) You know what to expect when a completely new business opens in a new market. I have my own commitment to the company and will devote most of the time on it.

If you like, please drop by to my new site Kijiji.cn, and post your classified. I will be happy to see more people mentioning it in their blogs – no matter positive review or negative. At least, you may feel some connection with the newly born site – there is something you are familiar behind this site. Drop me an email if you have any comment. You know whom you should yell to if something does not work well. I love to get your direct feedback.

My friends, my readers, I appreciate your support in the past and I am looking forward to your continuous support. I owe big thanks to everyone who read my blog, comments on this blog, and write about this blog. I will definitely continue. It needs some courage to disclose this in a highly competitive market and there are too much uncertainty in PR or legal perspective :-), so let me put the disclaimer, that whatever I expressed on this blog only represents my personal opinion, and does not present my employer. As always, I will continue the mission of this website: To bring first hand information to help visitors and expats to Shanghai. “Life is short. Let’s have more fun.”