IMAGE: Dmitriy Shironosov — 123RF

Re-interpreting the workplace

Enrique Dans
Jun 3, 2017 · 2 min read

We are increasingly moving toward open work spaces, which means not just a new way of working, but a redefinition of organizations, with horizontal management structures, less hierarchy and greater coordination with external entities, reflecting the reality of the internet era: the costs of transaction, coordination and communication are so low that such structures are now imperative.

Evolution points not only to working in open areas without individually assigned offices, but also to versatile work spaces, reflecting the idea that “work is not a place”, but a pleasant environment fostering the social characteristics of exchange, serendipity and creativity, while offering all the necessary infrastructure for any need: concentration, meetings, private conversations, space for relaxation, etc. The new office is a space that provides much more than a place to sit in front of a machine, because a place to sit in front of a machine is something we already have anywhere we want, including our home, with the appropriate communications to actively participate in the life of the company.

“Working in an open environment distracts me and makes me less productive”: when you require real concentration, work from home. The office is not a place for deep concentration: for that there are other, better spaces. The office is a place for us to exchange information, ideas and feed the part of our work that requires interaction. It should be a place we want to go to, because it is pleasant, but does not tie us, and simply offers the infrastructure we need at any given moment. If your work doesn’t require social interaction, inspiration or creativity, then you have a more serious problem: in a relatively short time your company will put an algorithm or a robot to do your job.

The challenge is to stop designing workspaces around the use of paper. We continue to consider the workspace as “a place to put papers”, while use of screens, which have become the real workspace, is not growing. Eliminating paper is no longer some fad, a matter of costs or a question of efficiency: it is an imperative need that will redefine how we work. The new office must be designed so as to make a sheet of paper so uncomfortable that not only is there nowhere to leave it, but it becomes a strange, absurd element, meaningles in a professional environment, a relic from another age. In the modern office there are no printers or photocopiers, because their very presence is the negation of the concept of modernity, of a new way of working.

With each day, the need to leave the office is more pressing, and their design a reflection of how a company is run, and how competitive it is.


(En español, aquí)

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at enriquedans.com

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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