Over the past week I noticed a lot of comments regarding my article on whether or not a deskless office like GlaxoSmithKlein’s made sense. Regardless of your opinion, the fact of the matter is that companies are struggling to cope with the changing ways employees now accomplish their work. It’s only because today’s employee’s need to collaborate more to be productive (82% of employees surveyed by a 2008 Business Week Survey said they needed to collaborated at least once a day), but also they are incorporating new technologies to help them at a very rapid pace. Today’s businesses are facing the challenge of learning how to harness this shift and help their employees create efficient work.
British design firm PearsonLloyd is tackling the evolving work place problem by developing furniture that is “designed to provide a range of individual ‘Me Places.’” Their goal is to create places where “workers can remove themselves from the background noise and distraction associated with the general office when they require a space for total concentration.” These aren’t your father’s cubes. Say goodbye to the plastic, or aluminum, or whatever it is that most cubes are made out of and say hello to the semi-enclosed, upholstered workspace of tomorrow. Throw a bunch of these in the office and working in a sea of cubicles won’t make you want to gouge your eyeballs out…hopefully.
What if you were to Facetime your boss right now, totally out of the blue? We have the technology. How would they react? Video conferencing has now becoming commonplace in the workplace. However to most of us, it’s still not the same as human interaction. Why? Office furniture company, Steelcase, believes it boils down to the environment where most chats are conducted. The majority of today’s video conferences are made using Cisco TelePresense systems that are designed to duplicate corporate boardrooms.
In a recent FastCo Design article Christine Congdon, director of research and communications at Steelcase, states “You sit side-by-side looking at a big screen, and the space shapes our behaviors so we become very stiff and formal…Those spaces are fine for informative collaboration, but you’d never find yourself getting into a creative flow with colleagues at a distance.” Steelcase’s solution? Time to reinvent the video chat. Their goal is to make video conferencing easy and unintimidating, believing the philosophy: “If it’s easier, and not intimidating to users, it will be used more often.” They purpose creating “spaces reminiscent of photo booths crossed with living room furniture, where someone can relax, but the production approaches studio quality.” This makes the experience casual, while making a high quality, professional looking video. By having a relaxed space it should nurture the kind of spontaneous conversation that can lead to new ideas.
The workforce is in a state of change. The way employees accomplish their work is shifting. For corporations, being able to overcome these challenges will mean the difference is failure or success.
What are your thoughts? Think any of these suggestions will help employees be more efficient at the office?