two employees in open plan meeting area

People and Place: A Visionary Approach

In the context of radical changes in workplace strategy, the 21st century is delivering change as monumental as the great shifts of the past – the move from hunter-gatherer to farmer some 12 000 years ago; the Industrial Revolution through the turn of the 18th century and today the Digital Revolution with its Internet of Things (IOT), interconnectedness and globalist approach have all had, and continue to have a profound effect on employees and the workplace environment.

Defining the changes over the last 20 years

Let’s focus in on the period that applies most to the majority of us today – the last two decades.

How have things changed? Well, the ‘traditional workplace’ was largely a top-down, firmly-structured environment characterised by

  • Fixed hours
  • Cubicle/office/floor divisions denoting position within the company structure
  • Expectations of smart dress no matter what the day or weather
  • Rigid hierarchies of communication
  • Very specific spaces designated for presentations and meetings

The workplace (The Place) was therefore a reflection, in most instances, of the corporate approach (The People) – and sure, it worked for a while, but no longer…

The Millenials, the Internet, and the New Order

The 1990s brought with it the origins of change that are now accelerating at a massive rate. At the heart of the change is the Internet – on the curve of change, the Internet has evolved faster and faster, with new technologies and companies creating and exploiting these technologies springing up virtually daily.

And come the turn of the last century, a new generation of humans, the Millenials, is beginning to make its mark on the world, particularly in the workplace.

This new generation embraces new technology with a fervour, constantly finding new ways to let the connectedness of the Internet and the Internet of Things work for them to make their lives easier, to find faster solutions to a wider range of challenges, and to innovate and reinvent products and services.

This Millenial employee then is a radical departure from the People of the 1990s.

  • They’re trading full-time ‘stability’ for freelance flexibility and ownership of their own time and destiny
  • They’re happy to work in shared spaces on ‘hot desks’
  • They define themselves through their fashion
  • They communicate freely across traditional hierarchies because they’re motivated by driving value through efficiency rather than conforming for the sake of preserving some ‘archaic expectation’ or tradition
  • They use communal office space surfaces (glass and whiteboard walls) to sketch and define, to project onto, to show presentations, to collaborate

But most importantly, these People collaborate across time and space boundaries by harnessing the technologies at their disposal. Their laptops and phones are mobile windows on the world – there to serve their needs and interests at work to drive collaborative value.

What is this New Order in the context of the workplace?

The biggest shift in mentality from the traditional Place to the New Order of People is this: Work is no longer a place you go to, it is a state of mind.

Let’s define this more clearly:

  • Agile employees are able to work anywhere, anytime using technologies such as Skype, Slack, Uber Confererence and a host of other tools
  • Agile employees prefer workplaces that support their working habits – they want collaborative spaces, open lines of communication, structures that support value through innovation rather than silos that stifle growth and create divisions

What does this mean for you, the employer?

Simply put, it means you need to redefine the Place you create in order to drive the best value from your People.

Traditional asset-value concepts of brick and mortar are being replaced by resource-value defined by humans, the People. If your workplace strategy embraces the People as the heart of the value chain, and develops its physical environment to foster this strategy, you’re heading in the right direction.

To find out how to drive the best value from your workplace strategy, please get in touch with Officescape today.

circle pointer

Get in touch with us

contact us +