Step into the office of the future on the first day of work, and the things that you expect in a traditional workplace are not going to happen here. There’s no landline, no file cabinet, no bulletin board. The employee is never taken to an assigned cubicle. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that employees will spend much of their day in the same chair.
The forward-looking workplace design discards all the usual trappings of the traditional office that lock employees into physical departments with seating arrangements and moving towards an ‘open’ design. While perks such as catered lunches and ping pong tables are getting attention for changing workplace culture, it’s actually the power of technology that is quietly transforming the way we work. Technology is a tool that gives us a fluid and flexible use of time and space, changing how people get the job done.
“Eventually, the open digital workspace design will not be simply nice to have, it’s becoming more and more expected. It’s going to become mandatory if you want to attract top talent,” says Donna Kimmel, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer of Citrix.
Welcome to the era of the open workspace, where people can work and collaborate anywhere in the office, wherever they need to be. What do these modern workspaces look like? These are the five traits they have in common:
Ditch the cubicle farm
Without the need for space-wasting cubicles, your building space needs are reduced, in some cases up to 50%. And a collaborative environment is created when walls are torn down and open seating arrangements invite conversation and brainstorming.
Accommodating work needs
Because technology frees knowledge workers from being rooted to a single cubicle, the new way is to offer an entire floor of flexible workspaces that accommodate various needs and styles. For example, one day an engineer could be working at a long table with fellow engineers, vendors and a project manager. The following week, that engineer might duck into a small privacy room for a marathon session of focused work.
A flexible workspace sends a different message to the team. It invites conversation and innovative ideas by actively engaging with colleagues throughout the day, rather than rushing through a meeting agenda and hustling out.
Increases employee engagement and productivity
Flexible workspaces send a message that employees are entrusted to do their jobs wherever they feel most productive. Things like corporate policies and company culture also send powerful messages to employees about how they are seen in the organisation. Usually, the feeling of increased autonomy and trust will also increase the level of employee engagement.
“We have data showing that autonomy leads to better engagement, better engagement leads to greater productivity, which leads to better bottom-line results,” says Amy Haworth, Director, Organisational Readiness at Citrix.
Embracing the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ method
Sure, many employers may still provide hardware, but as workspaces become more flexible, employees simply wish to access their work platforms using their own laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Luckily, it is now much easier to give employees seamless access to documents and networks safely – without draconian security measures to slow connections and processing speed. And as information, applications and work resources move to the cloud, businesses can securely deliver them to any device that has a secure network connection.
According to Kimmel, there are numerous benefits of a redesigned workspace. It breaks down barriers between managers, employees and departments. The increased, casual encounters make it easy to approach others to ask questions, make suggestions and solve problems. As a result, work gets done more quickly, and employees and managers alike report higher productivity.