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October 17, 2012

Offices need to change in order for businesses to survive

Technology is evolving at the fastest rate in history and yet offices and office cultures have remained pretty much the same for the last two decades. Sure we have implemented faster PCs, laptops and Wi-Fi. However the real game changer was smart phones and tablets. We are now connected 24/7 wherever we are. Work is no longer confined to the four walls of the office but have businesses and offices evolved in line with this?

The Status Quo

For years people have gone to the office and sat at their desk either alone in a cubicle or office, or an open plan office sitting in groups or departments.

The average cost of running a desk in the UK is £12,000 a year. This is taking into account real estate, power, connectivity, heating and cooling, communications, technology, cleaning, insurance, health and safety – not to mention the resource to then manage all of this. When you add it all up there is a lot of money spent on just being able to work at a desk.

Did you also know that on average your desks are empty for 48% of the time!

We think it is time for a change!
Business is changing

There are three types of change that businesses face today:

Economic pressure

  • Achieving unmatched speed to market
  • Meeting changing and evolving customer demands
  • Responding to new and evolving markets
  • Competing demands of higher quality and lower price
  • Embracing globalization and new business models

Social Expectations

  • New generational expectations and demands
  • Ever changing channels and modes of social interaction
  • Environmental
  • Work/Life balance

Technological changes

  • The digital age is here
  • Mobility
  • Home working
  • Customer expectations

Introducing Activity Based Working (ABW)

First up, what is activity based working? It’s a new way of working that does not involve desk ownership and embraces flexible working. It is based around a trust-based leadership.

When London architects Woods Baggot were asked to design new offices for Macquarie Bank they had a vision of creating a modern way of working that had a balance of interests for both the employee and the organization.

The aim was to create a connected workplace that encouraged community, communication and collaboration both face to face and electronic.

Macquarie Bank employees do not have an office or a desk. They work from anywhere.

This could be in the office, out and about or even from home.

The offices are designed with lots of break out areas with soft seating and small and large meeting rooms and café areas. For those that want to concentrate there are quiet spaces.

The employees of Macquarie Bank are judged on output and are trusted to complete their work wherever and whenever is best for that day.

There is no line of sight leadership. Employees have really embraced this culture and post occupancy surveys reported that 91% would not want to return to the old ways of working.

One employee had this to say:

“I’m 2 kg lighter and feeling healthier. As I’m working from home more I am fitting in more time to run and exercise. This is a natural follow on to having less formal meetings.”

People are collaborating 30% more and with people they may have never worked with in the previous setup.

*Inspiration and data taken from the article The activity based Workplace 110510 by Giusppe Boscherini and the Cordless Group.

Technology is the enabler

Macquarie Bank and lots of others since have been able to embrace this new way of working thanks to the innovation of IT.

Cloud computing and virtual desktops have enabled people to access their desktop and applications from wherever they are and on whatever device they want. Internet connectivity is getting better every day and 4G connectivity is being announced this very week.

Sales of tablets are far outweighing those of PCs and Laptops and with the rise of trends like Bring your own device, (BYOD) businesses are going to have to adapt, and fast, or face simply being left behind.

David Shaw

David Shaw

CEO at Modern Working I have a passion for technology and Digital Marketing.

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