Factors of the Productive Workplace – Introduction

Prior to the Christmas and New Year 2013 break I spent some time considering the reasons that Bring Your Own is transforming the equipment that we use to do our work, particularly in the knowledge-worker** environment.

The primary drivers are a desire by people to be more productive, creative and collaborative. There are, of course, many factors that influence these things beyond just the tools being used. The major factor, I suspect, is the place itself.

I have overheard many statements that go something like this:

All I need to be productive is my MacBook and a Starbucks.


I’m much more productive at home.

I don’t think I have ever heard someone say:

I am most productive at my desk in the open-plan office.

I have heard:

I spend a couple of hours working at home to get something useful done; then I come into the office.

Why is that? Why do organisations persist with offices at all; if these statements are true?

Why are some organisations clamping down on home working if that’s where people are productive?

Why are so many people sat in open-plan offices with their headphones in (like I am now)?

What makes an organisation create a workplace like this:

Or like this?

Or like this?

Is this really a great place to work?

Why did we move away from offices like this?

How did we end up with offices like this?

Or like this?

What makes someone create a personal home workspace like this?

Or this?

There are hundreds more here.

If humour is best when it’s based in reality why is the cubicle such a rich source of comedy for Dilbert?

In short: What are the factors that go into creating a productive, creative and collaborative workplace? And how large an influence is the place itself?

I don’t know the answer to those questions at the moment, I haven’t done enough research, but I have some ideas.

This is just an introduction after all.

** I’m looking for a new term to replace knowledge-worker because I don’t think it really describes the new types of work and the skills required.

One thought on “Factors of the Productive Workplace – Introduction”

  1. Interesting blog Graham. I don’t have the answer either but I know what works for me and that’s generally working from home. As long as I can keep interaction with other people when I need to through the various mediums it’s not too isolating.

    I find that when I come to the office to work there has to be an objective or purpose such as a face to face meeting that can’t be done any other way. There are too many distractions in the office that you can’t switch off. For example you can’t just ignore someone that comes to your desk to discuss something just because you are in the middle of something. Well some might but I wouldn’t. As you say, it’s often the case that we end up sitting with headphones on and tuning out from the office noise. Which sort of negates the point of being there, doesn’t it.

    Plus the petrol is way too expensive to come in every day!

    Interesting subject though and I’ll be interested in reading any other views that are placed here.


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