Business Performance hybrid office

Dropbox Studios Vs Traditional Office Set Up

Dropbox: The Virtual First Plan – Will It Work?

From removing the word hybrid to changing offices to studio’s, Dropbox has made a deliberate act in changing their future of work.


  • Reshaping their offices and renaming to Studios 
  • Why? 
    • 1/ Building more space 
    • 2/ Offering more freedom
  • Consider interpersonal connection around meeting spaces 
  • Offering one employee experience not two to ensure everyone has a fair career trajectory and remove any inequalities 
  • Shaping employees days helped meeting time vs deep work time, individual work vs teamwork and the need for collaboration. 

Dropbox studios is another take on slack’s digital-first identity they recently announced and are actively building into their product to enhance the virtual and remote first work. 

But can a file storage and document company really not promote hybrid in the future of work? Maybe their working environment is different to others.

There are two key quotes to work this through from a recent podcast interview suggested: 

“All the space is for in-person collaboration,” 

“And it’s completely flexible.”

— Melanie Collins – CPO At Dropbox 

Clear Remote First?

Dropbox has been clear to their employees, remote work is the default setup for all Dropbox employees going forward. However, having the time and the right space for the teams to be in person is of the highest importance.

Dropbox is leading the way in being deliberate, mapping out the employees experience and how their days are shaped and helping their teams to understand their approach and how their days are now shaped.

Here is Dropbox CEO Drew Houston explaining Dropbox’s Virtual First “Strategy” and now it has been successful

Collaboration Spark

But their emphasis is on the moment’s teammates are together and the spark teammates get from collaborating and problem solving together in the same space.

You could argue they have learned from Apple’s and Google failed approach and rolling out a no ambiguity approach.  

It is important to note, Dropbox is clear, hybrid office can create a two-layered system that makes work unfair and are taking these steps to reduce this.

How Dropbox Understood Their Future Of Work

  • Mapped out their employee experience and employee journeys 
  • Ran larger studies 
  • Ran regular surveys 
  • Asked 70 employees to keep daily diaries of their work-life and reviewed to build their new studios and enable remote-first work.   

Dropbox has definitely taken a step back and learnt that proximity bias does play a big part in most peoples workday and are actively trying to address proximity bias and poor management practices. 

Employee Experience Perks Rethought 

Hybrid perks are going to be a hot topic, many are starting to reshape and think hybrid perks. 

Dropbox’s approach: Dropbox employees now get an annual $7,000 perks allowance to spend on things like home-office gear, in-home care, food, a gym or any number of other things. 

 “This promise has been around since the ’80s, with telework and things like more flexibility, being able to work from anywhere, not being stuck in commutes all day,
— Drew Houston CEO @ Dropbox

The Feedback: 

Employees loved the flexibility of remote work and craved even more freedom in how they planned their days and did their jobs… But they still wanted to feel connected to their co-workers, and to Dropbox as a whole.”
— Alastair Simpson, Dropbox’s VP of design

How Dropbox Are Looking To Fix The Broken System? 

Their answer: Optimising time and set out the work 

Building studio for collaboration post-meeting, better meeting rooms and conference spaces and library areas and rules for deep work aka focus.
These are similar to how Intercom has introduced neighbourhoods concepts into their offices

Introducing Meeting Windows 

4-hour collaboration meeting windows versus the rest of the day for deep work 

The meeting hours 

  • West Coast 9.00 – 13.00 
  • East Coast 12.00 – 16.00 
  • International teams have to flexible 

This is the clear issue with not wanting a two-tier system or a team and b team, international teams are very often treated as the b team and encouraging flex around time and meeting times towards the end of their day is not embracing meeting windows. 

Just Another Experiment?

Dropbox is famous for its experiments, many of their staff have suggested these steps to virtual first is another experiment they are rolling out. 

Fortunately for Dropbox, this experiment might be one of the better thought through and insightful approaches to fixing the broken office set-up that many face today and tomorrow. 

Will It Work?

All in all virtual first and the steps Dropbox have taken to think and act to improving the employee experience and improve performance based on work environment seems a smart experiment to take. Will the meeting windows and office as a studio concept work? Only time and feedback will tell, from all of the companies making external comments and providing their insights it is an important but pretty methodical approach that will help to set their teams up to succeed or fail fast. 

Download Our Free Hybrid Work Guide

Dropbox Chief People Office Melanie Collins appeared on the Protocol Podcast, it’s well worth a listen below:

Need More Help With Fixing The Broken World Of Work?

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