As workers use technology to be more mobile, flexible and productive, cubicle farms are giving way to the workplace equivalent of open pastures.
Organizations are redesigning workspaces to encourage creativity and collaboration, according to expert panelists at the recent “Future of Work” webinar presented by Apollo Research Institute. Open floor plans and public-space workplaces—which replace traditional offices and cubes—are new hotbeds of innovation, say the industry leaders and future forecasters who convened for the event.
“Smart technology and other machines have taken on many tasks, freeing up human beings to use their core strengths of higher-level intelligence, innovation and creativity,” said panel moderator Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute. “But optimizing human intelligence requires looking at how and where we work, how workers connect to one another and how we collaborate to solve problems.”
For example, entrepreneurial companies such as Facebook focus less on a hierarchical chain of command and more on individual responsibility and self-motivation. These companies create an internal “creative commons” in which technology allows all workers to share ideas and solutions that impact the organization’s direction.
“At Facebook, we talk a lot to employees about individual accountability and ownership and the importance of a strong, cohesive ‘hacker-based’ culture that can break things open to make them stronger,” said panelist Stuart Crabb, who heads learning and development at Facebook.
Crabb noted that flatter, more democratic organizations appeal strongly to the newest workforce: the Millennial Generation. “Being able to develop and use their individual talents in tangible ways is critical to motivation among Millennials,” he said.
As formal structures decline and social networks expand, workers will need freedom to control where and how they work, according to panelist Jim Keane, president of Steelcase Group, a leader in workplace design and manufacturing. The traditional one-size-fits-all office is outdated and organizations now seek environments that unlock creativity, innovation and speed.
That means using mobile technology to link internal workers with global collaborators and replacing cubicles with more adaptable spaces that invite teamwork.
Keane said the most effective workplaces are those that help attract, develop and engage workers by providing choice and control. “Everyone can reach their potential through the choices they make,” said Keane.
Access the “Future of Work” webinar or read the report by the Institute for the Future for Apollo Research Institute at http://apolloresearchinstitute.org.