Has the death knell sounded for the corporate office? According to Forrester Research, some employees never see the inside their office anymore. Its 2012 Workforce Employee Survey found that in 2010 everybody worked at least once per week in a corporate office, but by 2012 this had fallen to 89%. In its place home working was rising rapidly, with 27% of employees working at home at least one day a week in 2012, up from 18%.
And Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft told delegates at the recent Connected Business show in London, that “We need to reclaim the word work: it’s something you do, not somewhere you go to.” He warns that the old way of working has left the workforce disengaged and feeling like a tiny cog in a large machine.
making office more attractive
But Google’s plans for its new European headquarters in Kings Cross, London clearly demonstrates that even tech leaders think there is life left in the good old corporate office. In fact you can find a number of staunch office backers in the tech industry, such as Yahoo’s CEO Merissa Meyer who banned home working in early 2013. Meyer claims her initiative has had the desired effect of improving staff collaboration and morale.
It’s fair to say that working for Google doesn’t conjure up images of an office cubicle. The company has designed a space that it hopes will attract employees to the corporate office. This includes a cycle parking area you can actually ride into, 19 cafes, a bowling alley, volleyball courts and two open air swimming pools. So perhaps companies like Google need as much space as companies traditionally used to have, but just need to use it differently.
Essentially Google and Yahoo are both trying to achieve the same thing – to get employees into the office to collaborate. Although Google favors the carrot compared to Yahoo’s stick! Google has even chosen the location of its London office to tap into external creativity and ideas. It is being built right next to the art school Central St Martin and the new Francis Crick Institute biomedical research center, and it is just down the road from the British Library. All these creative and intellectual neighbors should help stimulate staff to new heights of innovation.
the new workspace
Of course not everyone can work in an innovative £1 billion headquarters like Google’s – but the requirement for collaboration doesn’t go away. The good thing about technology is you can take your workspace with you into an innovative environment. The Forrester survey referenced above found that 12% of employees worked in a public site in 2012, compared to 5% in 2010.
The key to helping employees successfully collaborate wherever they are is to provide them with the appropriate digital tools. They need to be able to access corporate resources securely on any device from any location using cloud, mobile devices and ubiquitous connectivity.
Look at the enduring popularity of hotel lobbies to have meetings and collaborate face to face. Hotel chains actually encourage workers to use them with a range of programs, such as Workspace on Demand from Marriot and Tangent from Westin Hotels. They formalize the working from the hotel experience and offer meeting rooms for hire to support group collaboration.
Liquidspace, which manages the Marriot program, also works with enterprises directly to help them allocate desk space internally more efficiently to improve utilization. Customers include Accenture, which allows its employees to book space to work at either at a third party location or at one of their offices.
There has been an increase on co-working spaces globally, where members can come and work in a shared environment. These spaces attract start-ups and freelancers in an environment that encourages innovation. Examples include Google’s Campus and Techspace in London’s Silicon Roundabout.
Employees can tap into this innovative atmosphere by using the space themselves. According to the Co-Working Survey by Deskmag, 24% of coworkers are actually company employees. Coworkers in the survey claim that being in the space helps them be creative, come up with business ideas, improve focus, be more productive and have a better standard of work.
All of these different approaches show the variety of ways that employees and companies can refresh their working environment. Best of all is that with the new workspace you can improve collaboration without having to build a brand new office in the buzziest part of a city, or ban employees from working from home.
And take a look at our infographic about building the new workspace here: http://www.orange-business.com/en/blogs/enterprising-business/collaboration/infographic-build-the-new-workspace