Solid post, really agree with this. I find that employees are much happier if they get to work on diverse projects and aren't stuck with doing repetitive tasks day in and day out. I'm also a big fan of training up, rather than hiring experienced SEO's. I've found over the years that the "experienced" SEO's that come to work with us we end up having to un-train bad habits which is about equal to the time it takes to train up someone with less experience.
A savvy web designer that knows their way around a server makes for a great entry level SEO.
As for all the perks of having a cool/open office, it isn't always an option but nevertheless a great concept.
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