Productive Workplace: Some Observation

Having finished a set of posts on the Proactive Workplace, based on the future skills that we are likely to need, I thought I would list some of my observations that may not be directly reflected in the other posts:

  • The traditional office is already dying – fewer and fewer people feel the need to go into the office to do their work. They can work where they choose to work. This causes much anxiety in many organisations as they try to work out whether people are really working.
  • Collaborative spaces are increasing in importance – if people are going to meet face-to-face it will be to collaborate. The cost of that collaboration is very high, because it now includes travel, so they want it to be highly productive. The space needs to enable the best possible collaboration.
  • Virtual still isn’t the most productive – people still want to get together to interact; they recognise high performing spaces when they see them. The virtual alternatives are still not intuitive enough to be a full replacement.
  • Flexibility is hugely important – it’s my personal view that most offices are built for the convenient of the people managing them, not for the flexibility of the people using them, but it’s the flexibility that facilitates the productivity. Flexible may be more costly but it’s also massively more valuable.
  • The screen isn’t as important as I think it is – I work on screens, they’re what I look at all day. Many of the workplaces that I have looked at use a diverse set of media – the whiteboard and the post-it note is becoming more important, not less.
  • It’s all changing – what I do today, and how I do it, is going to change. The change may well make me redundant in that activity. Even if it doesn’t make me redundant I’m likely to do it in a different way using different tools which require different spaces.
  • We’re not ready for the change – most of us struggle to cope with amount of information that work creates today, the work of the future is going to require us to behave differently, and we haven’t worked out how yet.
  • Place of flow are going to be a key differentiator – many of the future activities, much like many of today’s,  are going to require deep focus and concentration – flow. Those places are likely to have different characteristics dependent upon the individual. They will be treasured by the individual and fiercely defended. If organisations want people to collaborate they are going to have to provide both collaboration spaces and flow spaces.
  • Meetings are being reshaped – people are using many different techniques to gain value from a meeting. Techniques initially conceived in software development are being adopted across all sorts of fields, the same with techniques created in car design.
  • Networks of people will create the value – the people interacting in a workplace are unlikely to all be employed by the same organisation. Many more people will be sole-traders or acting as part of a network of people. This becomes another driver for workspace flexibility.

Another video on the Future of Work:

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