Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Workplace, Innovation and Technology; A Trio of New York Times Articles

Two different friends (Thanks Dave and Chris!) involved in creating and cultivating work communities and workplaces here in VT mentioned I would enjoy reading some articles from last Sunday's New York Times. 

Sunday's Business section had a big spread on workplace, innovation and grappling with a technology overloaded world.  I suggest you find 20 mins of quality away time to peruse them. It'll be well worth your while. You'll learn how Google, DreamWorks and General Electric innovate with their workplaces.  

Whether you're considering renovating, adding or building out your workplace, unifying your brand messaging while building a stronger work community or all three and more, this is a must read moment! 

Creating choices of workspace and amplifying engagement was a key takeaway for me among many. It'a about providing your work community a wide range of choices of work spaces, moving beyond the 8x8 cube into a range of formal meeting rooms of various sizes, smaller 1-3 person away spaces such as phone booths or just in time rooms, then on to more informal "backyard" areas with a collection of easy chairs or sofas, mobile white boards and places to put coffee cups and snacks the fuel seeding innovation and collaboration. 

As these articles so eloquently share and our experiences working with clients show, plan on a lot more informal meeting area, collaboration spaces, away spaces while allocating less square footage for dedicated or non dedicated workstations. Perhaps 50/50 or 60/40 ratios accordingly. 15 years ago it was more like 20/80 or 30/70, but not any more. The new normal is to provide more choices in the workspace, there by cultivating innovation, collaboration and creativity. 

Today's tactical everyday business needs shift with evolution of mobile technology, collaborative surfaces, tele-phresence and cloud computing. Adaptive, flexible workspace along with quiet high focus large and small spaces are essential to building effective high performing, engaged work communities. The NBBJ designed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Campus in Seattle directly related to the specifics of the business needs of their team and supporting getting the work done as effectively as possible while also supporting vastly different work style and collaboration needs.

Design for flexibility and plan for change from the get go. It means considering using movable architectural wall products which like workstation furniture can adapt to fast changing business and organizational needs where sizes, numbers and types of spaces may rapidly shift over the course of 3-5 years. Investing in metal stud, drywall and glass side lites may be more affordable at move-in but severely diminishes future flexibility for rapid adaption to organizational change.

And that workstation may not need to be as big as it used to be. With digital technologies and paperless transactions more normal than ever workstation storage demands are much less than five or ten years ago. And the sizes of stations are shrinking to fit the reduced paper needs while providing desk space for 1 to 2 additional monitors to facilitate paperless work. 

Anyway, I digress away from the big picture the New York Times presents in their suite of Sunday Business articles. Focus on providing choice and flexibility to enhance work community engagement coupled with three dimensional branding which resonates with core company mission, values and messaging.

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