The business world is changing, and the mobile worker is at the forefront. Mobile workers are not just those who travel across the country or world doing their jobs; they are also those who have the mobility to do their work in a variety of places within a building, across a campus, across an ocean or in the comfort of their home. Research has predicted that nearly 35 percent of the global workforce will be mobile in 2013.
Why the change? Technology is advancing rapidly, making it easier than ever for people to work outside of a traditional office setting. But while technology is changing, the human process of innovation has not. Serendipity, social bonds and co-creation are still critical to creating fresh, new ideas. Space can play a huge role in unlocking creativity and attracting talent.
Our research says we still ‘come in’ to work because A) we need technology, B) we need people, and C) we need spaces that bring technology and people together. While you can’t prevent the increasing mobility of workers, you can take steps to better adapt to the changes as they affect your business. Consider these four ways to make your office valuable in today’s wireless world.
- Mix it up – Think like a great urban planner. Vibrant cities have various zones, and every great workspace should as well – zones to play, concentrate, collaborate, socialize, and create. Provide work areas throughout your office that cater to different needs. You can play around with your floor plan to see how you can revamp your space to accommodate different types of work. You can also bring in the familiar and comfortable to help make the office a more attractive environment. Include a kitchen counter as a place to gather, socialize and have standup meetings. Break up space with couches, rugs, planters, large lamps, and screens. Provide places for standing and walking.
- Unchain the user – Free up people to move. Movement and choice are key elements to creativity and wellness. You don’t need to add more space to ‘mix it up,’ just make use of the spots that go empty for hours. Don’t worry about assigning spots or having one desk per person. In your design, truly support mobility by having a variety of work areas and addressing practical things like having power near all couches, counters and group areas. You can also consider coworking as an option. Having options is key to mobility.
- Enable buzz – Think like a great restaurant designer. Every great space should have an element of hospitality. Things work, people are welcomed and events are frequent. There is an optimal density to planning that keeps enough people in the space so that there is a buzz. Find ways to make workers more comfortable talking and collaborating. Play music, talk in normal tones and treat your office like a booth at a busy restaurant.
- Let the inmates run the asylum – Creativity is enabled when people are free to be themselves. We see this time and time again in truly great companies. Recognize that not everyone creates or shares the same way. Some go digital, some love doodling, some love Legos – so embrace these design options in your space. Express the personality and culture of the company by encouraging employees to personalize the space. Allow workers to bring their bikes pets, pictures and crazy iconic objects to work. Creating a welcoming and enjoyable environment will make traveling to the office more appealing than working from home.
About The Guest Author: Kevin Kuske is chief brand advocate and general manager for Turnstone, a Steelcase brand that designs solutions that help create great work environments for small and emerging companies.
Modern Office Photo via Shutterstock