Our connections drive the design of the workplace. Understanding work and why and how we do it is fundamental to almost all cultures and certainly to our own. As a massive shift takes hold in the method, the speed and even the location of how we receive, absorb, and give information, all consumer-focused industries across the globe are affected by our expectation of what it means to work. Since mobility in the workplace gives workers great latitude in where they work, we say this new mobility is the ability to work anywhere, anytime. Mobility changes not only the physical nature of work, but also intangible ways workers relate to each other, their teams and their company. Mobility actually enables the deep human yearning to be part of something bigger--to connect with others in meaningful ways. And while companies around the world have struggled to find their own balance of building a deep and loyal connection with employees while building a global network and untethering workers, several factors come into focus:
Technology Allows Mobility.
The remarkable pace of enterprise-level technology advances continues to change the face of mobile computing. Smart phones, tablets, cloud computing and ubiquitous wireless have removed the anchor that once tied employees to a desk. Whether an individual even needs a permanent desk is a hotly debated point in many organizations and regardless of a company's policy, numerous studies across many industries show that individual workspace is used on average only 40% of the time. Most companies would never dream of continually investing in a resource that wasn’t used 60% of the time, but that’s what they’re doing with the workplace.
Business Requires Mobility.
The lines drawn by country borders and oceans that separate countries and continents have started to fade. Globalization requires flexibility to work beyond traditional office hours to accommodate globally dispersed teams, customers and clients. Changing demographics, shrinking workforces and lifestyle choices require work to be enabled anytime and anyplace. And this anytime, anyplace mantra is not limited to the scale of continents and oceans: Within a well-designed workplace there should be multiple places to work together, in teams and individually.
Workers Demand Mobility.
Workers are demanding the right to work where they want, when they want. A recent national study of more than 1,000 working adults found that “62 percent agree that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding what company to work for” and “42 percent are willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work”. This represents a dramatic departure from only a few years past when HR had a much more black and white view of employee benefits and recruiting appeal.
But while firms need to invest in the technology and protocols to support workplace mobility, there is not some new mandate that suggests workers need no longer come to the office. Every business will find its own balance of policies that are supported by the corporate culture and management styles. A workplace strategy that successfully navigates the balance between what technology allows, what business requires, and what workers expect and demand is essential to keeping up with the pace of change and creating a truly compelling place to work.
As a Principal with PDR, Larry is an expert in workplace strategy, programming and concept design. Larry’s twenty-five year career at PDR has included many of PDR’s most challenging and significant projects around the world including ExxonMobil’s Houston campus, ConocoPhillips’ Houston headquarters, the redevelopment of Chevron’s Bellaire, Texas campus, and Eaton Corporation’s headquarters in Cleveland. He is leading PDR’s team in applying a unique Inside Out approach to Dominion’s new Richmond corporate headquarters which began with an overall Master Plan, and evolved into piloting new ways of working for their Dominion Workplace Plan.