One reason the word “telework” seems inadequate to describe how we want to change the workplace is that it suggests that our focus is only on how people can be effective when they work at home. But that’s not really what it’s all about.
The Workplace of the Future is about people working where, when, and how they work best. And sometimes that will actually be in the office. For this reason, it’s important that we give a thought to how our office space looks and whether it supports the type of work environment we need to be fully effective. While we don’t want to have to come to the office every day, when we do go there we want a flexible work environment, a space that supports collaboration and innovation. We do not want a cubicle farm.
The commercial world is starting to move to a new model of space design that promotes creative interaction, and some government agencies are moving in this direction as well. It’s a concept that looks more like a coffeehouse than a paperwork factory. It eliminates cubicles, provides more informal seating, lots of white boards for group thinking, and flexible spaces that can be adapted to meet the need for short discussions or long term team projects.
Does it have challenges? Yes. It eliminates the status symbol of the corner office, and it asks us to get beyond our need for space “ownership.” It won’t be right for every organization. But it is time to start thinking beyond the cubicle. If you would like to learn about some of the radical space designs that organizations are adopting – and some of the challenges they are addressing — check out this New York Times article: