“The workplace” as we know it is changing rapidly, and is constantly changing—this is nothing new.  Gone are the days where all employees commute to a common workplace and work under one roof.  Employees are now situated in all four corners of the globe working in different time zones.  There are a number of reasons why this is happening, but the single biggest reason is the explosion of technology, notably highly scalable and cost-effective web technology.  Nothing will ever replace the power of face-to-face human contact, but when you evaluate the pros and cons of technology, notably related to costs, the pendulum is swinging heavily towards the technology side.

So with the evolution of technology, is the evolution of the workplace.  What is the workplace today?  It’s wherever you are sitting, wherever you log-in, and is highly mobile.  It’s whatever you define it to be, your home office, coffee shop, car, couch, shared workspace, the main office headquarters and any combination of the above.

With rapid technology advancements are the increasing complexities that come with maximizing employee performance.  Complexities including multi-generational groups, blending of personal and work lives, increasing emphasis on personal customization and employee diversity, that is influencing work styles and team composition.  At the end of the day, and I have said this many times, is the number one driver of business success; that is employee engagement.  A positive correlation exists between levels of employee engagement and business performance.

Engagement 2.0

This is NOT about technology.  Here is my line of thinking… we know the following:

  1. The workplace is changing.
  2. Technology advancements are impacting the workplace—driven by rising costs.
  3. Employee engagement is, and will always be king to maximizing business success.

The question is, “what is the new role of the physical workplace”?

Employees still need the ability to connect, collaborate, problem-solve and create.  After all, they work in teams to solve problems, deliver business results and positively contribute to growth and viral experiences.  Yes you can do all of this using technology, but technology alone is insufficient.  That physical place where they have the ability to go and do their thing is still very much needed.

Office Space Shift

Driven by the thirst to reduce real estate expenses, increase productivity and collaboration, and possess a greater ability to adapt and flex to changes in the market, major corporations are re-thinking how they design their physical office spaces.  Firms are scaling back on corporate HQs—Microsoft, Whirlpool and many other major global corporations are knocking down walls and creating more open spaces using fewer square feet.  These changes are resulting in positive gains in things like talent attraction and retention, and overall employee productivity.

The Final Connection

Integrating technologies into how employees conduct their day-to-day business plus the shift in how core office spaces are configured, designed and constructed will yield optimal results from costs and employee productivity perspectives.  After all, the core reason why a company is in existence is to be profitable.  Yet, we know full well that it is not as simple as that.

The wrinkle in this is “engagement”—now, strategic integration of technologies plus strategically designed functional office spaces that enable maximum collaboration between employees will increase employee engagement, which will result in improved business performance.