Does Workplace Suit Culture, Work, Business Goals?

It’s not really a surprise to see the Wall Street Journal reporting on trends in workplace design. But when I read about office design in an airline magazine, or see it on the local news, I start to wonder whether something is up.

What’s up, I think, is interest.

It’s no secret that work patterns are changing. Easy mobile access enables many employees to be productive outside the office. And when people are in the office, collaboration is often the priority.

Meanwhile, cost pressures are leading management to reduce the amount of space devoted to each employee. And demographics are causing some of those same executives to wonder whether their workplaces will do a good job of attracting and retaining Millennials, particularly those with in-demand skills.

A Dilbert-like sea of cubicles is hardly a creative or effective response to developments like those.

So the word is out that workplaces are changing. And it’s not surprising that employees want to know more about what’s going on in other companies. After all, people spend a lot of time at work. And it seems that work is getting busier and more stressful for basically everyone I talk with. The idea that a workplace can help make people more productive, and maybe less stressed, has undeniable appeal. At the same time, who wants to be told that they’ll be getting less space than they have now?

Every company is different, of course. In some organizations, a fairly traditional office design may be just fine. But with all the changes in the business environment, advances in technology, and new thinking about the workplace, it probably isn’t advisable to simply assume that the status quo is the best option. Consider asking around — top management, HR, IT, maybe even occupants — how well your current workspace suits your culture, work processes, and business direction. The answers could give you a head start on your next big  project.