Marten Bütow
14. June 2017 0

The Modern workplace – on the way to the next eureka

Eureka! The best ideas apparently occur to people in the bathtub – at least judging by Archimedes. However long and hard he thought about King Hiero’s crown – and presumably he spent a lot of time doing so – it was all for nothing. The penny did not drop until he was relaxing in the bath one day, before running stark naked through Syracuse shouting about buoyancy from sheer excitement.

Creativity and innovation – even today those are values that make a difference. In our industry, innovation is the must-have of any corporate presentation. And for good reason: “Creativity and innovation distinguish between leader and follower”, is how Steve Jobs summed up their importance. A view that made him a billionaire.

Yet creativity cannot be dictated from above (“Now it is time for you to come up with something”). And classic workplaces do not necessarily promote creativity either. Most employees find their workplace uninspiring. Occupational psychologists maintain that “Detrimental working conditions hamstring even the best”. So to get employees in a knowledge society to perform optimally, modern workplace concepts also tackle the working environment. The environment must fit in with the particular task: Quiet corners for phone calls or video conferences, open spaces for teamwork, through to peculiar rooms that apparently serve no purpose, but which allow people to kick around ideas.

After all, – according to what has now become a classic study by Baird et al. (2012) – anyone that can think outside of the box when it comes to a topical issue, receives new impetus for precisely this issue and becomes more creative. Just take a look and you will understand what I mean

The hunt for the knowledge worker

You cannot pull “creativity workplaces” out of a drawer; they are geared to personal and contextual factors, they therefore address, on the one hand, the employee’s personal “preferences,” on the other the specific needs which that employee needs for their current tasks. The workplace can therefore change several times in the course of a working day – depending on the to-do list.

But that means, if we spin out our chain of thoughts a step further, much more demanding requirements placed on the provisioning of the IT workplace. The spatial and the personal dynamism set up a “playing field” where traditional provisioning models quickly reach their limits. In other words, IT provisioning must keep pace with the dynamics of the creative workspace. “What, you now want to hold a video conference with colleagues? You can’t in this room.”

For wide-ranging collaboration tasks (maybe also ad hoc meetings), functionalities need to be provided dynamically in any location: “Cool brainstorming, but how do we now get our handwritten sketches on the board into our data repository?”. Some workers prefer to use a fully fledged laptop, others are happier with a tablet (but with additional specific productivity apps). The workplace IT must be able to support all that (and presumably more besides). And that is certainly a challenge. Otherwise the entire beautiful concept for the next eureka quickly falls apart ;).

More references

You’ll find more modern forms of work and answers from IT in our white paper “On the way to the liquid work era”.

And if you have other issues to discuss then perhaps you would like to discuss your questions with experts at the “Virtual Workplace Evolution” Congress.

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