There is quite a bit of discussion today about the workplace of the future and how companies expect to reshape the office environment as a result of several factors but most notably advances in technology. While I without question acknowledge the growing trend of alternative work strategies and expect it to accelerate over the next few years. I also believe we will likely reach a point where there will be a push back from not only employers but workers alike.
As someone who spends a considerable amount of time working from outside the confines of my office and has the freedom to do so, I often find not only the desire to be in the office for face-to-face collaboration but think it’s critical in many situations. I love the following quote from the Herman Miller whitepaper, How and Why We Meet:
“The intimacy and trust that are developed through face-to-face meetings are especially critical to the transfer of tacit knowledge, or knowledge that is difficult to articulate”
Some have made bold predictions that the rise of telework will ultimately drastically reduce or eliminate all together the need for office space. I predict that we will discover this approach ineffective for many if taken too far and ultimately will result in a push-back that will demand a more appropriate blend of digital and face to face communication.
I don’t have a 60 page research paper from an Ivy League PhD to link to which supports my premise. This is just what’s in my gut from my own experience. I foresee a blended workplace that allows more freedom for many employees to work outside the office on a part time basis, but whom will discover they still want to come to the office quite often. We may very well push telework strategies too far and while enterprise social technologies will prove to be great enablers of productivity, we will ultimately come back together; it is in our human nature to desire face-to-face interaction.
Density with Dignity
There is an ever increasing focus on workspace density. My office (personal workspace) is 180 useable square feet and I would be okay with 120 square feet, perhaps even 100, but I still want an office to utilize among my colleagues and support staff more often than not and I have a feeling many will have the same sentiment.