The Office Workplace is Changing. Don’t Get Left Behind

Changes in the work patterns that today’s workforce employs to excel are evolving at an amazing pace and leading to the creation of agile workplaces. It is an employee driven phenomenon, courtesy of the new generation of knowledge workers, that can benefit all generations in the workforce.

It seems that there is one article or another telling us how this company or that company cut the amount of office space they need by 50% and became more productive and profitable. However, many office workplaces are adjusting at a slow pace or not at all. Unless employers realize and adapt to these changes, their businesses will fall behind the curve, losing the cream of the crop employees; resulting in lower profits.

Focusing on reducing square footage in leased office space is one tactic, but should not be the primary goal of adapting to the new workforce work patterns. Increasing productivity and profit should be primary goal. With the changes in work patterns, the result is usually a reduction in office space. It is a byproduct of the improving productivity and profit and also in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest of the new generation of knowledge workers.

Changing Work Environments

Much work is performed today in places such as airports, home, coffee shops, in vehicles stopped along the way to the next meeting, and a plethora of other third-party workspaces.

Businesses are adjusting by implementing agile workplace technologies such as office hoteling to reserve office space, conference rooms, equipment and services as needed for employees, rather than maintaining a desk space for each employee. This is one step toward adapting to the changing work patterns of today, but alone, it is not enough. Flexibility is critical because today’s empowered teams form and evolve as needed, often without the outdated management direction.

Work Pattern Changes Reduce Costs

Management empowering employees in how and where they accomplish productive tasks is critical. The acceptance of mobility can lead to reduced costs, not just in office space square footage, but in reduction of reduced other occupancy costs such as furniture, communications, tenant improvements and the like.  Near-shoring, meaning choosing the least costly means to accomplish tasks, can save by adding contract employees or freelance subject matter experts to be employed as needed. This can cover work without the overhead of increased permanent staff. This doesn’t mean that you have to go offshore and reduce jobs in a specific country, you can find near-shore staff locally or across the US — or even by moving a task to a lower cost position in your own organization.

Work Pattern Adjustments Increase Productivity

In a study by TomorrowLab, four factors were identified that  can  significantly improve workforce productivity and create a more effective virtual team. These factors are:

  • Shared Vision and Process
  • Great People
  • Effective Communications
  • Appropriate Technology.

By combining these proven factors, a collaborative work environment can be achieved. This is a crucial factor to increase innovation, quality, and productivity.  Collaboration, virtual or face-to-face, bonds workforce members into putting the right heads together when needed to solve problems or accomplish goals.

Providing amenities at the office, such as snacks in the break room or fitness center membership (or if practical a large company  might offer on-site workout equipment), encourages people to share information when they are not “at work” and the spontaneous ideas resulting from this relaxed interpersonal bonding can lead to innovations above and beyond expectations.

High tech mobile equipment allows collaboration when working outside the office. A recent trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device e.g. computer or tablet)  is gaining popularity. Many of the younger generation use their devices for more than just business purposes.

Occasional workforce gatherings maintain contact and informs workers what progress and ideas other team members have produced, but weekly staff meetings can be seen as time-wasters. In many cases, it is best to hold these gathering less often or when there is big news to discuss or share will

Benefits of Changing with Work Pattern Changes

Organizations that are open and flexible with work pattern changes provide environments for employees to grow and prosper. Recruiting and retaining the best employees is expected to become more difficult in coming years, so creating a work environment that earns the organization the reputation of being a great place to work will pay off when recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest.

We can help. Contact us so we can get you started finding out about creating an Agile Workplace and how it might work for your company.