Despite the drive for flexible working, the office is here to stay

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For some organisations culture and technology has had a profound effect on the way people work. The hard fastened 9am – 5pm office hours have become somewhat blurred. Focus is shifting from time spent at the office as a measure of performance, to the volume and quality of work that’s being produced.

Where the work is done, is also becoming less relevant as long as it’s getting done. That’s meant much greater flexibility in people’s professional lives. For some it takes the stress out the daily commute or it’s easy for them to work from home if they need to arrange a call-out from a plumber or an electrician.

But as work begins to shift away from the office, you might be forgiven for thinking that the office could become a thing of the past. We don’t think that’s the case though. The office remains the core base from which organisations soar. Like a swarm of bees back and forth to the beehive, workers come and go, more frequently than before. 65% of workers say they’re encouraged to work in the office and many famous organisations have shown their commitment to the office by investing heavily in showcase headquarters during recent years.

 But what goes on inside these office walls is also changing. The office is evolving to support a more ‘mobile working at the office’ environment. The concept of having a ‘fixed desk’ in the office is being replaced with ‘hot desking’ (sitting wherever is available when you come to work). Fixed telephony is disappearing as people use services like Skype and mobile more and more. Workers are equipped to set up shop no matter where they find themselves.

What’s critical to a functional mobile environment though, is connectivity. It’s the glue that keeps employees together. Forget about building more meeting rooms, support the virtual meeting room through better wi-fi connectivity around your office. Subscribe to mobile networks that provide the strongest and widest coverage. Give employees smarter tools, like more interactive screens. These can provide capability to push a video call or a document from their smartphone to a larger screen to share with colleagues. Employees want a more connected, visual workplace – quickly.

Organisations need to create a culture of trust to allow their people the freedom to work from anywhere and at any time. But it works both ways – employees must also show that they can handle this level of freedom.  It takes everyone to create a working environment that’s mutually beneficial to both employer and employee. After all, flexibility should be a two-way street with both parties willing to compromise when it’s needed.

We’ve been researching the digital workplace since 2010. It helps us better understand the challenges organisations face when rolling out transformational projects. Our latest whitepaper to come from this study is ‘People, productivity and the digital workplace’. Click here to download your complimentary copy.

Joseph Walsh

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