Mat Baxter on why Huge has done away with the ‘boring’ office

A year into his tenure as global CEO of digital experience agency Huge, Mat Baxter is closing all of the agency’s global offices – bar one. He told Mumbrella why this is the way forward.

Speaking on this week’s Mumbrellacast, to be published tomorrow, Baxter said Huge has moved to a “fully flexible model”, meaning employees can work from wherever they choose, full time.

“There is no mandatory return to the office. You can not come back to the office at all if that’s what you want to do,” he said. “We encourage that people do come into the office occasionally to create that connection and to keep that culture alive, but one of the things we’re doing is re-imagining the office altogether.”

Baxter – done with the office

“A few weeks ago I announced that we’ll actually be closing all our physical offices around the world with the exception of Brooklyn, which is a heritage location for us, it was where huge was born. So we will sunset all of our global offices, we’ll continue to have Brooklyn, but it will become a global experience centre and it will facilitate experiencing the brand and the culture in a different way to an office.”

He said that in place of the agency’s global offices, it will create physical meetings and experiences for people in other locations, replacing the office experience.

“Because the office experience is a really flat and boring experience for employees. You come together, you plonk yourself down in a spot and you spend most of the day on your computer and you might see people in passing when you’re at the elevators or when you have your lunch, but it’s not exactly a dynamic and exciting experience for employees.”

“What we’re saying is, let’s get rid of the office, let’s remove that constraint of coming to a physical location and working from that location, and instead let’s create experiences for employees that bond us together and build our culture in different ways.”

He said the agency is designing a ‘cultural calendar’, in which it will facilitate and pay for those experiences, with employees “scattered all over the place”. Baxter said this opens up these experiences for those that don’t live near its legacy offices in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, LA, and Brooklyn for example in the US.

“I do think there’s a need for us to rethink the office, because the office is a really old-fashioned concept and we wanted to break free from it and really liberate ourselves from it, and that’s what we’ve done. So I’m really excited about that, we announced that to staff a couple of weeks ago and had a really good response.

“I really am excited about us kind of trying to be a bit of a pioneer on redesigning some of that,” he said.

A year with Huge for Mat Baxter

On whether a move away from offices will change the output, standard of work from employees, and time invested, Baxter said that “the only standard I think anyone should be held to is, is your work fantastic?’, and do you get everything done on time? Provided those two variables are delivered against, don’t really care about how you do it. That’s up to you.”

“The office was born from a time where the company needed you to come into the office and your boss needed to look over your shoulder and make sure you were working, and you turn up on time, and if you arrived at 9:05 instead of 9:00, you were late. That’s a problem. Like it was a very command and control construct, and a construct that quite frankly message to employees that the company doesn’t trust you enough

” I think we need to be a bit more grown-up than that as companies and say, you know what? we need to trust our people enough to let them do what they need to do wherever they choose to do it. And it’s on them to make sure they deliver and provided they deliver, then that’s great. Now if they don’t deliver it, that’s a whole nother discussion and that’s for the company to manage.”

“But I think if you get the right quality of talent, then all of those issues, you just talked about melt into the background, they become irrelevant because really good people are diligent and I just think that companies need to message trust and respect because the workforce today, particularly younger people will not tolerate and environment that is anything other than that.”

Listen to the full conversation below on the Mumbrellacast. You can find all previous episodes here. 


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