The Tuned-In Workplace

What does it take to get a workplace that fits? First, know who you are and who you want to be, what your culture is and what it aspires to be, who your people are and how they are changing and what their work is and how they achieve their best results. These are the critical building blocks in your workplace strategy.

Workplace, offices, open-plan, privacy and collaboration are all headline news of late. What does it mean to you and your business? How do you cut through the generalizations and trends, claims and pitches, academic opinions and research to get to what really matters? What matters is what’s going to work for YOU: your business, your culture and your strategy for success.

Today’s business leaders should be wary of inflammatory discussion — that debate isn’t focused on you or your business. The real question isn’t about making a choice: privacy or collaboration, independent or shared, open or closed. The issues aren’t battling each other — WORK needs them all — often simultaneously.

Choosing one aspect of work over another risks compromising all of the work. There is no universal solution that solves everyone’s workplace requirements. Chasing someone else’s workplace solution is akin to wearing another person’s wardrobe. It isn’t going to fit quite right, it won’t be comfortable, it won’t allow you to move the way you need to and it won’t inspire your best performance. Your workplace needs to fit your business. Not someone else’s. It needs to be tuned-in to you.

What does it take to get a workplace that fits? First know who you are and who you want to be, what your culture is and what it aspires to be, who your people are and how they are changing and what their work is and how they achieve their best results. These are the critical building blocks in your workplace strategy.

The solution paradigm is shifting because the work paradigm is. There are universal challenges that all businesses are facing in one form or another. Headlines that praise or criticize one aspect of the workplace are one-dimensional — and miss the point.

There are simply more factors at play than the physical characteristics of the primary work location. Anyone who isn’t considering the total workplace when making workplace strategy decisions isn’t accommodating all that work has become. How work gets done is directly related to the culture of the organization and requires a variety of activities in a variety of conditions.

The paradigm of providing one dedicated space for each worker is dated. It’s shifting because competition is changing the requirements of work. Individuals want to work smarter and innovate faster. Simply accomplishing a given task isn’t the source of value in the new work-world. A critique that is based on supporting a single, primary work activity is off-base. Today work activities must align with the current business challenges of keeping up, staying informed, and turning ideas into market innovation as quickly as possible.

Open plan work settings optimize collaboration, energize work, highlight effort, and help workers feel connected to business goals and one another. Private spaces provide separation from the thick of things and are equally important for detailed focus, task completion, and often, inspiration. Workers need both.
 

The fact is knowledge work varies; it is both independent and collaborative. A solution that forces a choice instead of providing choices will fall short of enabling both.

Complaints about open office mask the real story — the shift to employee empowerment. Workers don’t need to own their spaces, but need to be able to choose the most supportive environment for the work at hand whatever that work may be. Making the decision allows them to be the most productive that they can be.

Any office space can be designed poorly. Total isolation with big closed offices and no connection to the rest of the organization isn’t healthy. Solitude is important for focus, but most workers don’t require or want 40 hours a week of quiet time to do their work. Total exposure with big open bullpens isn’t healthy either. Open plan as a solution isn’t wrong, but open workplaces are often poorly deployed.

The 21st century workplace has become a complex system of multi-functional spaces designed to accommodate the range of work activities. Importantly, this shift requires management behaviors that empower people to do their best work — wherever they need to do it."

At PDR, we are committed to creating workplaces that are tuned-in to the workers and, in turn, encourage employees to tune-in to it. The Tuned-In Workplace understands its market: the company, business and people it serves. It offers variety, options and choices. It's connected, networked and engaging on both digital and analog levels via technology and people. It encourages workers to tune-in. It’s empowering.

Stay Tuned.