Thanks to the internet, any place can now be a workspace—our homes, a coffee shop, the airport, a kids’ baseball game. Really, anywhere. We can even work a whole world away from the office and our cohorts. But there’s often a price that comes with this ability to integrate work with life 24/7.
While mobile technology offers connected convenience, it makes it harder for companies to ensure their people receive the support they need from their remote working environments. For employees, working off-site long-term can create feelings of alienation and loneliness. It also separates them from the company’s community and culture.
Bring ’Em Back In
Many businesses are calling for a return to the office—for at least part of their employees’ working time. However, plopping people down in the traditional workspaces we used just a few years ago won’t do. The ways we work have changed—and they are constantly changing. If spaces don’t serve the current needs of your employees and their new workstyles, asking them to report to an office just trades one problem for another. People won’t do their best work in spaces that don’t work for them. And sometimes, people won’t work at all—choosing to leave in favor of a more supportive, flexible environment.
The challenge for businesses, then, becomes multi-dimensional:
How do you evolve the office environment to 1) bring people together, 2) support them in their work, and 3) keep the flexibility they desire?
Not everyone needs the same type of workspace. Preference sets are unique to individuals and groups. Work itself varies from task to task. Innovation requires a combination of focus and collaborative activities. It’s important to create varied spaces within the work environment, so people can choose which best accommodates their needs. This includes times when they need to take a break, shift focus away from work for a moment, rest, or recharge.