A new set of values and beliefs among potential employees has created a new, emerging business culture.
Behavioral change is occurring within the organized workplace that is far beyond the control of its leadership! This transformation of the basic human condition is innate in today’s society and is greatly affecting the “Culture” of every business organization.
For perhaps the first time in history, leadership is not in a position to totally stipulate the overall work arrangement and work processes of their employees. They must work WITH their associates …sharing the goals of the organization and, together, creating a path to fulfillment.
Business leaders must thoroughly understand the social atmosphere of their organization. Good or Bad, the existing social culture of an organization is very hard to change. However, through the planned physical manipulation of People, Work-Tools (including furniture) and the Workspace, a highly effective work environment can be realized.
Promoting the strengths of your workforce culture through a planned physical work environment is a critical element to business success.
Do you remember sixty-inch high panels on three sides of you? With lots of storage and, at least, two drawer pedestals, overhead bins and your own file cabinet? All of your personal stuff was laid out on your work surface sharing space with your own Personal Computer, Monitor & Keyboard …located near your personal telephone? Did you even have your own guest chair? …Sound familiar?
You did your job in relative obscurity relying on memos and input from your manager for guidance. But where did you get your real information? How many “Hall-Meetings” did you have throughout the day? It wasn’t long before those hall-meetings became the mainstay of your productivity. That’s where your most valuable information came from! Somewhat serendipitious at first, the information was timely and impactful to your organizational responsibilities. Before long, these meetings became less impromptu as the value of this knowledge became apparent. Wisely, your management team began to embrace the significance of those hall meetings and created areas within the existing physical workplace that would bring various disciplines together in order to broaden thought and promote a more holistic communication process throughout the organization.
The idea of a physical workplace that promotes collaborative and interactive work activity is not new. The original philosophies of “Office Landscape” planning originated in Germany with the QuickBorner Team in the mid to late 50’s. Largely misunderstood by business executives and space planners alike, the open office concept was often perceived as a way to get more people into less space with little regard as to what those people did or how they did it.
It has taken several decades for business leaders to realize and understand that the true economic value of physical space planning is not merely reducing the real estate footprint but in the streamlining of human interaction and communication!
Utilizing a well planned physical facility that intuitively supports the needs of today’s complex work processes is a critical factor for organizational success!
…It’s just Good Business.
It is largely understood that in most work cultures, the vast majority of work is the responsibility of individuals and small teams assigned to specific tasks. In many cases, it may not matter where the work is done as long as the individuals (and groups) meet the fulfillment of their goals in a responsible and timely manner.
Jason Fried tells us that we have traded the eight-hour work day for twenty-four hours of “Work Moments“. Most of us would agree that, when those invaluable moments occur, it is essential that we are in a work environment that is relevant to our immediate need. No matter where or how individual work occurs, the fact is that its effective and timely accomplishment is critical to personal objectives as well as those of the organization. Therefore, the personal choice of easily available and appropriate workspace, wherever it might be, is often up to the individual.
In most cases, business leadership would prefer that the majority of those workplace offerings be located within the physical confines of the greater organization. Beyond the day-to-day work activity, there is always the potential that unplanned and somewhat serendipitous activities within the workplace might lead to constructive interaction and innovation.
Whether business leaders are striving for Innovation, Interaction and Collaboration or, just getting the job done, the fact is that the course of actions necessary to get work accomplished has rapidly become the individual choice of those who own the task and is often entwined with other duties, both personal and professional.
Alternative workplace may be located in the home or in a public offering (Library, Coffee House or an organized Community Work Campus) it is, however, critical that it is conveniently located and contains the appropriate tools (including furniture and space) that support a variety of work needs. This makes the attraction to an appropriate work environment, by employees, a critical factor in the accomplishment of overall business goals. Therefore, decisions concerning Work Processes and the Physical Spaces in which they take place must be a high priority with business leaders.
Providing and Maintaining a dynamic work environment, that continually supports its users with appropriate tools and a variety of work settings, will be essential in creating a First Choice destination for associates in this highly competitive job market.
In the twenty years since Becker and Steele published their enlighting book regarding the importance of the planned work environment, many business leaders are still overlooking the value of the organizational workplace. Many leaders still see the workplace as merely conditioned space in which their employees work and, as such, write it off as a cost of doing business with little or no regard to the effectiveness it can bring to organizational output. We have spent the last twenty years (and more) prophesying about the “Office of the Future” and its capabilities of supporting new ways of work. THE FUTURE IS NOW! We can no longer rationalize today’s organizational space as adequate enough until the future arrives.
In 1995, Becker and Steele asked business leaders and space planners to “take the trouble to do a thorough up-front analysis” towards an effective planning process …Asking for an “organizational ecology approach”. That advice has never been more pertinent than it is today! Ecological (Human Centered) methodology should be a priority in space planning today and should largely be driven by organizational leadership! An appropriate workplace, based on diverse employee need, is more critical to a successful business than ever before. And yet, many of today’s workplace “solutions” are still based on assumptions of past need and, as a result, are detrimental to interaction and collaboration thus stifling the fulfillment of organizational goals.
It is no longer about organizational real estate as such. It’s about People, the Individuals, the Workforce that occupy that space and that environment’s capacity to effectively support work activity.
Over these many years, the semantics have changed but the message remains consistent. Whether you call it an “Open Plan”, an “Organizational Ecosystem”, or an environment of “Biotic Diversity”, the fact remains…
The effective and timely completion of the business objectives of today’s organization are directly related to the physical space in which that work takes place! This is no longer merely a theory of design practitioners but a fact of smart business criteria. The last two decades have only intensified the necessity of physical spaces that support incomprehensible advances in technology and social diversity within (and outside) the work environment.
Smart business leaders must take the lead in regards to planning an effective work environment for their organization. Having a thorough knowledge of their existing culture (or what it should be) and working in collaboration with organizational space planners, they will truly generate a positive Workplace by Design.
I’m curious …Did anyone that attend Business School in the last forty years receive any education regarding the value of Planned Space to employee productivity?
In 1958, Peter F. Drucker proclaimed that, “The primary resource in the post-capitalist society will be knowledge and the leading social groups will be ‘Knowledge Workers'”. In 1968, Robert Propst stated that, “The office, as we have come to know it, is an adolescent statement starved for appropriate definition and somewhat oblivious to the forces of change”. In 1996, Michael Hammer declared, “These new (work) processes often call for empowered, frontline individuals who should be provided with information and expected to make their own decisions” …further stating that business leaders should “adapt their companies to new ways of working“.
With the exception of some incomprehensible advances in technology, the overall message in these statements, over the last sixty (yes, 60!) years is still quite relevant today. An yet, many organizational leaders still perceive the physical work environment as merely an enclosed, conditioned space where their employees “work”!
Today, there are enormous amounts of valuable information substantiating the need for appropriate workspace for this, not-so-new, way of work. Planned Space that supports today’s interactive work processes, while providing semi-private areas for more concentrative work, is a must in business acumen.
A physical workplace that defines work is not a short-lived trend but a critical asset to business success!
Business leaders are being inundated with reasons to create a more competitive, interactive, work facility for their organizations. And, yes, there is a lot of merit to the value of a workplace planned for the new work initiatives. With that said, much of the push for innovative space seems to be from an “all-or-nothing” perspective which does not need to be the case!
Many going concerns are doing just fine in today’s business environment with a much more traditional business model in place. As a result, their leadership is reluctant to fix something that is far from broken. They do however, see significance in creating area(s) within their organizational space that promote the valuable, interactive, space that can lead to innovative thought within their ranks.
The most logical location to incorporate this type of “communicative” space, within the existing work environment, is in a place where most of the employees naturally cross paths throughout the day. The obvious areas of consideration would be lunch rooms, break areas, copy/support areas and , the often underutilized, entry foyer. Any of these areas could be targeted and repurposed as a virtual oasis of highly interactive, collaborative, thus Innovative Space!
This physical environment, promoting somewhat serendipitous, cross disciplinary, interaction, will greatly accelerate new thought within the overall organization without disrupting the more traditional work modes. However, leadership cannot rely on a “if you build it, they will come” mentality! Employees must be informed of the physical changes within the new environment and be thoroughly educated as to how the space is to be utilized to its potential.
The addition of this new, more open and inviting, location within the existing facility will greatly compliment the more traditional workplace …allowing all employees a greater choice from which to bring their goals to fruition.
I recently attended a presentation given by Kirk A. Young, President of Job Match Assessment, an Overland Park based consulting firm that serves organizations by quite literally, matching available jobs with high performing individuals specifically suited for the job.
Kirk spoke of the recent challenges of “Engaging and Motivating Millennials”. He explained that, even today, many workers new to the workforce come in like other generations have. “…anything is possible but the costs and the paths are not clear”.
Today’s business leaders, and particularly HR Professionals, have an entirely new set of values to match when working with the millennial generation. Leadership must know and understand the unique needs of millennials well. Millennials live in a highly connected society so leadership must make it a point to connect with them. And, they, in-turn, must be allowed to be interconnected with their leadership. In order to be fully effective, millennials must be “continually informed” of the goals of the organization. They must be provided the skills and the tools to do their work in a “Self-Managed” and “Self-Directed” environment.
Today, motivated employees are working to maintain and grow their personal vision of themselves. As a result, their success is achieved by reaching their personal goals as they relate to the fulfillment of their organization’s goals.
As suggested by Kirk, HR Professionals can utilize on-line tools to support their efforts in engaging and motivating millennial employees. For further information, please visit Kirk’s website at JobMatchAssessment.com.
Certainly, as change relates to organizational culture, in many cases, excessive management merely gets in the way!
True cultural change must be promoted through a forward thinking Leadership Team pointing the direction of business goals …allowing their respective associates, as individuals and in groups, the autonomy to reach their objectives.
Behavioral change is occurring within the workplace that is far beyond the control of organizational leadership! This transformation of the basic human condition is innate in today’s society and is greatly affecting the “Culture” of every business organization.
For perhaps the first time in history, leadership is not is a position to totally stipulate the overall work arrangement and work processes of their employees. They must work WITH their associates …sharing the goals of the organization and, together, creating a path to their fulfillment.
Likewise, business leaders must thoroughly understand the social atmosphere of their organization. Good or Bad, the existing social culture of an organization is very hard to change. However, through the planned physical manipulation of people, work-tools (including furniture) and the work-space, a highly effective work environment can be realized.
Promoting the strengths of your workforce culture through a planned work environment is a critical element to business success.
Business decisions regarding your direction to the future cannot be taken lightly and must be continually reviewed to assure that you are on the right path to success. At the speed of today’s business, we cannot merely react to change and remain in control of our business objectives. As business leaders, we must be able to perceive change as it relates to our organization and determine the most logical path in which to either avoid its interference or take advantage of the opportunity it brings.
None of us can predict the future with any certainty. However, there are things that we can do to get a baring on our business path. We may not be able to forecast the future but we can utilize Futures Envisioning in order to visualize where we want to be in the future and strive to move in that direction.
A thorough knowledge of the TRENDS & DRIVERS of today’s business will help to determine a plausible path to your business goals. Where do you want your organization to be in five years and what do you need to do in order to get there? Imagining and agreeing where you want to be, as an organization, is the first and most critical step to futures envisioning. Upon agreement by the various disciplines of your organization, the second phase would be determining and prioritizing the steps that will be necessary to get there. What strengths within are the mainstay of your success and what can be done to enhance that particular performance? On the other hand, what weaknesses are impeding your forward progress and what can be done to overcome them? Do your associates have an adequate physical facility with the tools and technology necessary to perform in an effective and efficient manner? A very open and candid understanding of these and other factors within your organization (both good and bad) must be addressed in order to determine your critical steps to the future.
The resulting information gained from a successful envisioning session will lead to a unified leadership team that is actively pursuing, from their respective disciplines, the same end goal to the future.
We must continually peer into the future and direct our course with a pro-active plan that incorporates anticipated change. …researching the future to predict a positive and successful outcome.