Only a few weeks before this interview, Patel and his colleagues moved into LabMorgan's new offices in the former J.P. Morgan & Co. headquarters on Wall Street. (The building's up for sale, so they may need to move again, most likely to JPMorgan Chase's HQ in midtown Manhattan, in the near future.)
Occupying two full floors of the pink granite, 1980s-era tower, LabMorgan's space has plenty of room to add staff-and plenty of tech-company amenities, like a foosball table, cappuccino bar and Zen
room, for employees to take breaks from their work. Windows offer wide views of New York. More important, the office has an open, fluid design, with clusters of barely divided work spaces, glass-walled meeting rooms and small, open conference areas that have pull-down projection screens, which can also act as walls for privacy. A wireless LAN covers both floors, and network facilities abound.
Patel describes the space as a cross between a trading floor and an Internet start-up. "We can move people around quite easily and reconfigure our environment," he says.
The point is to provide a space where LabMorgan employees can work collaboratively. Although senior executives-co-heads Nick Rohatyn and Denis O'Leary, and their direct reports-have their own offices (Patel's is a corner), their walls are transparent, and no one seems to spend much time at their own desks.
"I think that people are working hard, but they're also playing hard, and we're trying to create this balanced culture that's about being one team," Patel says. "So the environment's very open, with gorgeous views everywhere you look. I personally-and a lot of other folks who come in every morning from long commutes-get energized walking into this environment. It's different from the cubicle structure or where people get offices, and it really pushes the right envelope in terms of collaboration and in terms of openness. That's what it's all about."