The Future of "the Room" in a Flat World

As someone who’s worked remotely for the last 17 years at companies leveraging “flat world” principles it may surprise you that I’m about to extol the virtues of the “face to face”; but here goes!

There are a ton of elements of most jobs that can be done anywhere; if you write code to a spec you can do it in the office, in your bedroom, in Starbucks, in the bath. Nowadays, nobody really cares. As long as it’s good and on time, anything goes. If you handle customer service calls you can do it on the massive floor of a call center or at your kitchen table in Lebanon, Kansas, as long as your turn-around times and customers’ satisfaction ratings are up to snuff. If, like me, your job mainly consists of the three R’s – reading, ‘riting, and ruminatin’ – a “clean, well-lighted place” is about all you need.

Except... when you need the heat, and energy, and frustration, and excitement, and drama, of intellectual hand-to-hand combat to find, build – and winthe future of your work. Then there is no substitute – still no substitute – for being in the room.

The phone, Skype, email, Slack, video conferences, Jabber, FaceTime, Hangouts, are all great and serve their purposes well, but when you want a group of people to come together to really talk, really focus, really energize each other, really be creative and innovative, really sell ideas to each other, and really dig deep, then being in the same physical space at the same time really still takes some beating.

In our Collaboratory in midtown Manhattan we see the truth of this every day. Our customers are energized by being in the room with their peers (some of whom they hardly ever see in person), and our consultants, and engineers, and designers, and strategists. Building off the vibe and energy of the world’s ultimate 24-hour city and a We Work building full of entrepreneurs and creative millennials (“is one of these guys the next Zuckerberg?” you catch yourself thinking in the elevator), they step outside of their Q by Q, day by day, minute by minute concerns and give themselves the time and the space to think differently about what comes next, and what they should do about it. As we develop more Collaboratorys around the world (in Amsterdam and London already, coming soon to Australia and Singapore as well as India and California), we’re finding a new “hybrid” model emerging in which we meld the still amazing upsides of working wherever and whenever with the catalytic heat that “the room” generates. In 2016 the world is flatter than ever but, paradoxically because of that, the “room” matters more than ever, too.

3 strategies for meeting expectations in the changing workplace

The advancement of technology, as well as the globalisation of the workplace and changing work patterns, is transforming the expectations of your typical employee.

As the workplace of the future evolves, leaders and managers will have to harness the right tools help them meet these expectations, whilst also providing the resources that their employees are coming to expect.

With this in mind, a recent article on the Biz Journals website suggested some approaches for how businesses of all sizes can deal with these growing expectations.

1. Increase employee satisfaction

Ensuring that your employees are satisfied is a guaranteed way to boost productivity; yet a Gallup study shows that just 32% of US employees are engaged in their roles. This means there's a valuable opportunity for employers to increase employee satisfaction and, as a result, overall productivity levels.

Millennials are accounting for a growing proportion of the workforce - this group wants to feel they are contributing something to their organization's wider goals. So, leveraging workplace collaboration tools and software, as well as embracing enterprise social media, will have to become more of a priority.

2. Give them mobile choices

Freelance and remote working are growing phenomenons, with rising numbers choosing this kind of work over traditional jobs. This will only continue as we see the increased adoption of wearables in the workplace. Employers must prepare for this if they are to attract and retain new talent; whether it's adopting a BYOD(bring-your-own-deivce) policy or providing mobile-friendly internal platforms and software.

3. Boost communication

Email has been the predominant business communications tool for the past twenty years or so; but with inboxes piling up and people preferring two-way, instantaneous communication, this is likely to change in the years to come. Meetings are also becoming less popular as they are seen to waste valuable employee time. Bosses will have to keep up with communication technologies that can provide alternatives to these increasingly outdated channels, and ensure that meetings are more about quality than quantity.

Every click, swipe, "like," buy, comment, deposit, jog and search produces information that creates a unique virtual identity - something we call

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Generation Z imagines its future workplace design, pods and all

Hanging pods, holograms and communal vegetable allotments? That's how the next generation of workers - Generation Z - envisages their ideal workplace of the future, according to a recent study reported on the Workplace Insights website.

Scandinavian furniture brand HÅG recently held a workshop with two groups of university students aged 16-18 - one in London, and one in Oslo - to gather their thoughts on what they think the future workplace will be like. So, what were their predictions?

There were four key themes that emerged during the workshops: technology, health, the environment and innovative workspaces. All of these categories reveal how the participants feel about their future workplace, and the kind of things they would like to see in it.

For example, some hoped that offices would feature desks with interactive tablets that could also turn into beds; while others foresaw hanging pods and virtual reality rooms. Some took the concept of healthy living to the extreme by featuring communal vegetable gardens so that employee could grow their own lunch.

Health and wellbeing emerged as the predominant trend for this demographic. Our personal and working lives are continuing to blur, and this looks set to continue into the next generation of workers; but this younger workforce is more concerned than we are now with taking care of their physical, mental and emotional health while at work - and they expect their employers to care, too.

So whether it's hanging pods for taking an afternoon nap, holograms projecting tranquil vistas onto the walls, or on-site gyms and health centres where staff can even book an appointment with the company doctor, wellbeing is the name of the game for Generation Z.

Jorgen Josefsson, HÅG's managing director, noted that both participant groups "show enthusiasm for good design and appreciate the importance of a good work-life balance."

"It is also clear to see that Generation Z expect their employers to look after their wellbeing by designing spaces that enhance this and provide areas suitable for a variety of different tasks," he added.