Workplace flexibility isn’t a “nice to have” or a “perk.” It’s good business. This is very nicely illustrated in The New York Times Magazine. Sociologist Phyllis Moen and MIT Professor Erin Kelly looked at the interplay between work, family, and health in a large research project. What they found was that workers given the maximum amount of personal freedom related to being (or not being) in the office met their commitments and produced quality work, but were happier and healthier both in their professional and personal lives.
But as important is when they are in the office as this New York Times article, “Don’t Get Too Comfortable at That Desk”. New office designs are everywhere (and not just in big enterprises). With layouts meant to cater to the variety of tasks required of modern white-collar workers, it means people don’t sit in just one place.
A Workplace Menu
No longer is it a one-size-fits-all mind-set, not to mention the corporate penny-pinching, embodied in the move toward pure open floor plans that packed more workers into less and less space.
The new model is largely open — breaking down walls to bring people together is good. We also see in many organizations that there are team spaces and standing tables, comfortable couches and movable walls — all meant to encourage casual collision to generate casual collaboration.
Privacy is also good, particularly for tasks that require intense concentration or confidentiality. So instead of private offices, we see “isolation rooms,” soundproof phone booths and the like.
The new designs happening across all workplaces are not about looks. They are an attempt to adapt to the spread of internet-era digital technology — and its hurry-up ways — into every industry. Space drives behavior, experts say, and the goal of the new designs is to hasten the pace of sharing ideas, making decisions and creating new products. They are also meant to appeal to millennial recruits, many of whom are more comfortable working in a cafe than in a traditional office.
Want to know more?
In HR Delivery in the Digital Age, we explore why HR organizations should consider replicating the low-cost customer experience across the workplace strategy, that is utilized by consumer companies today.