The Office of the Future – The Newest New Idea

| August 8, 2013

Mature man helping his business associate with the laptop

Last month, we presented an article on “The Office of the Future”  which addressed competing views of how offices will function over the next decade. Now an important new study has been released by Gensler that provides quantifiable data as to the environment in which office workers (Gensler likes the phrase “knowledge workers”) perform best.

Gensler is a global architectural, design, and planning firm. Its 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey  found that workplace efficiency for knowledge workers has fallen by 6% since 2008, largely due to office structure, which has failed to respond to the challenges presented by advances in technology.

The report found that “The proliferation of social and mobile connections has revolutionized how we create, share, and communicate. Today’s world is connected like never before, but new connections mean new distractions and for many a compromised ability to focus.

The study found that persons who can focus are more effective and higher performing overall. “When focus is compromised in pursuit of collaboration, neither works well.” The better workers are those finding time away from distractions to focus on their individual tasks.

“The ability to focus and complete one’s individual work is a baseline need for today’s knowledge workers. Meet that need and the overall effectiveness and performance of your workplace, and your employees, improve dramatically.”

Certainly, effective workplaces need time and space for collaboration, but the Gensler study found that collaboration is most efficient when knowledge workers have sufficient time and the protection from distractions to focus. “Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.”

Finally, the study found that employee job satisfaction and performance is very much tied to their individual choice to create their own work climate. “Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.” In a generation that has grown up with an abundance of choices and values flexibility, workplaces that work best are those which provide individual choices as to when and how to get their tasks done.

This study is a helpful addition to our understanding of how people work best, both alone and together. Our productivity is limited by the hours we can commit to a task, and so we should maximize the value of those hours – to look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5: 15, 16 (ESV).

Category: Technology