5 reasons why ‘no office’ is better than ‘some office’ | Paul Miller | LinkedIn

Two weeks ago I was given a tour around the iconic new London headquarters of a large financial services company. They had considered many aspects of the shared working areas, pop-up meeting spaces, quiet areas and how to subtly influence better collaborative working. There is just one problem for this company – and for almost every other large organisation I know that is investing in ‘future workplaces’. No matter how many comfy lounges you have and how good the coffee, workers are voting with their feet and leaving offices.

Source: 5 reasons why ‘no office’ is better than ‘some office’ | Paul Miller | LinkedIn

Just recently came across this thoughtful post by Paul Miller, CEO and founder of the Digital Workplace Group. While many observers of the changing world of knowledge work still see a place for a centralized, commute-in office (CCO), refurbished as a comfortable space to meet up with colleagues and collaborate some part of the work week, Miller sees it as no longer serving a useful purpose.

He even goes as far as to predict the CCO will in the 21st century become an obsolete white elephant. Citing his own company’s experience, Miller argues that organizations that try to adopt a virtual work culture but retain the CCO will suffer an identity crisis of sorts and related in group/out group adverse organizational dynamics.

Conversation with Kate Lister, President, Global Workplace Analytics

Global Workplace Analytics conducts independent research and consults on emerging workplace issues and opportunities, specializing in making the management case for workplace flexibility, well-being programs, mobile work, activity-based work settings, and other agile workplace strategies.

In this podcast, Kate Lister shares her observations on how the world of knowledge work is has evolved and continues to change under the growing influence of information and communications technology that’s dispersing it out of traditional 8-5, Monday through Friday centralized commuter office (CCO) settings. Lister also discusses how this trend lowers real estate and human resource costs for employer organizations.

While UK organizations are in the lead, a tipping point has not yet been reached and won’t until more knowledge workers demand change, according to Lister, and employers realize it is far easier to recruit and retain engaged employees by adopting agile work policies. Lister predicts that by 2020, 25 to 33 percent of knowledge workers will be working outside of CCOs as offices function more as meeting and collaboration spaces rather than full time workplaces.

Is your economic development opportunity commuting out of town EVERYDAY? | Michael Shear | LinkedIn

We know there is a huge cost to getting people to work everyday: to the individual, the community and, to some extent, the employer. The costs are vehicles, gas, roads, pollution and time.

Is there a way to provide local job access to these commuters? Is there a model that would appeal to employers to have networked facilities in these communities. The costs of sending bits of information is minuscule relative to moving bodies. If you knew what companies/government agencies where hiring people from your community, might they work to examine how securely networked offices could create wins for communities, employees and employers alike.

Source: Is your economic development opportunity commuting out of town EVERYDAY? | Michael Shear | LinkedIn

Much of the push back directed at the decentralization of knowledge work out of centralized commuter offices (CCOs) due to the proliferation and maturation of information and communications technology is that CCOs provide an essential venue for daily collaboration. However, Shear — as do I in my recent book Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty-First Century point out that daily, face to face collaboration comes at great cost. That cost isn’t adequately taken into account by the “CCOs are necessary to enable collaboration” adherents. In other words, the argument goes, we must endure the time suck and personal costs of daily commuting in order to collaborate.

I don’t buy that argument and I imagine neither does Shear. As he notes, with today’s level of ICT that allows thought work to be conducted most anywhere with decent Internet service, it’s far less costly to use ICT to collaborate by moving ideas and not the bodies attached to the brains that generate them. Shear proposes in order to facilitate that, communities can create shared office distributed work facilities that would allow knowledge workers to work in their own communities rather than trekking daily — often in congested rush hour traffic — to a CCO in another.

How Silicon Valley Made Big City Housing The Cause of and Solution To Inequality (In 9 Visuals) | Gregory Ferenstein | LinkedIn

The alternative (California’s current solution) is commuting, as tech companies and their tens of thousands of employees are scattered throughout the peninsula, forced to find shelter anywhere they can. The Bay Area suffers from one of the worst commutes in the country. For decades, Silicon Valley’s suburbs have refused to accommodate high-rise apartments for tech workers and their massive campuses, which have slowly been pushed up north, from San Jose to San Francisco.

Source: How Silicon Valley Made Big City Housing The Cause of and Solution To Inequality (In 9 Visuals) | Gregory Ferenstein | LinkedIn

This article proposes the construction of high density, hi-rise housing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley to alleviate the high cost of shuttling people to and from their homes and centralized commuter offices (CCOs). The problem is it’s based on Industrial Age thinking updated for the 21st century that promotes the false notion that knowledge and creative workers needs to be physically co-located daily in order to collaborate and be productive.

Is that really true? Couldn’t they easily use the information and communications technologies these Bay Area companies innovate to collaborate without the commute by moving bytes, not their bodies? That way people could skip the commute and work in home offices or co-working spaces in their communities. That’s an obvious and much lower cost solution to the traffic congestion that’s strangling the Bay Area. Colleagues could still get together for team building and in-person collaboration. But as needed and on their own schedules and not 8-5, Monday through Friday.

It’s official: Working from home is the worst

“If it’s just about you banging out emails or writing a report, sure, you can do that wherever,” Waber said. “But the vast majority of stuff we do at work today—teamwork, not individual work—that is the stuff that really measurably suffers.” For big companies, that decline in productivity can be worth millions of dollars a year.

In a 2012 poll, 62% of employees said they found telecommuting to be socially isolating. And “jobs where individuals are most likely to be telecommuting involve sitting in front of a computer,” Allen said, so it makes sense that people working from home would get less exercise than those who have to commute.

Source: It’s official: Working from home is the worst

For many if not most knowledge workers, that is exactly what they do most of the day: sitting in front of a computer and writing documents and emails. And in many workplaces, they are expected to do that with minimal interaction with others, which is viewed as socializing and break time in the tradition of the water cooler — not working. The cultural ethic is nose to the grindstone in the style of the Industrial Age assembly line.

Tolan is certainly correct that in organizations that encourage collaboration, being face to face is ideal. But as Tolan suggests, most knowledge organizations do not operate as full time focus groups or think tanks. Constant co-located and spontaneous interaction among their members isn’t an organizational expectation. Tolan is also right in pointing out that not all knowledge workers have a suitable home office environment. A growing industry is stepping up to address this need with shared co-working office space in communities where knowledge workers live.

In addition, Tolan ignores the enormous business and personal cost to both knowledge organizations and their constituents to maintain what I term in my book Last Rush Hour: The Decentralization of Knowledge Work in the Twenty First Century as centralized commuter offices (CCOs) that involve hours of wasted time spent each week traveling between home and office, often entailing significant distance and time. CCOs are unnecessary with today’s information and communications technology that is rendering the Industrial Age daily commute trip obsolete.