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March 28, 2013

Where is the workplace?

Teleworking – Homeworking – Agile Working – Remote Working, call it what you will, the benefits to both employee and employer are still enormous and massively misunderstood.

Marissa Mayer CEO of Yahoo has made the bold step this week to endorse a ruling that homeworking should be banned come June 2013. A bizarre decision we feel given the companies prominence as a leading IT company.

The two biggest costs in any business today are staff related and real estate. With soaring commercial property rentals, SMEs struggle to find offices to accommodate all of their staff in one location within their budget aspirations. Why commit to an albatross lease of +10-years, when a nomadic workforce and workplace could be implemented? Truth be told, not all workers need desks, and research has proven that less than 40% of current employees need a desk to complete their work related tasks.

It has been cited that some of the best decision have been made in the halls, cafeterias and lunch rooms of offices – social interaction. This is true, but it doesn’t mean any less important and meaningful decisions have been made away from the office and the desk.

A company needs to be set up to allow for the Desk Anchors of the business but also space for collaboration – a thinkers paradise.  Ideas don’t stop when you leave the office environment, work continues and with modern technologies, smartphones, tablets, the Third Space has become the most used working environment of them all.

Just look around the train during the morning commute. Apart from the hardy few, most people will be frantically tapping away on their device of choice, with status updates, email responses or any other work related matter you can think of.

Peoples attitudes have changed, and they know that work is not just in an office, it is everywhere. Creating the right environment to bring out the best in people is what is needed and is the biggest challenge. It’s a science!

We are creatures of habit, we need a base or a temple. That is why the office will never truly disappear  We recognise the benefits of the office and why it will remain through time. Giving people choice and a balance that works both ways is the way forward.  It is also the best way to achieve Business Continuity – we are not only talking about the big interruptions (like Hurricane Sandy or snow days) but also the far more common ones that don’t make the new –  like days off to look after a sick child or maternity/paternity leave.

People talk of trust and control, we talk of output measurables, training and an infrastructure that allows collaborative working.

Another factor is our lifestyle. There are many people who “life slice” a term coined by the Citrix CEO Mark Templeton, about how we are no longer just working between 9 and 5 and in fact we do slices of work and life throughout the day – the train journey been a great example of this.

This is exactly why Morph and 404 have teamed up to work with clients who want to work in a more agile way and be more productive and profitable.   They do this by ensuring the office you do have works well for the modern worker to meet and collaborate and has the right space for office anchors to support them. By understanding  how the office has changed and how people really want to work,  combined with the right technology,  business can thrive.   Those who don’t will need to evolve or become obsolete.

Leeson Medhurst

Leeson Medhurst

Workplace Consultant - Fourfront Group

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