Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the office as a tool 1.2

Continuing with the scan of Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool, in installment 1.1 we listed factors that were causing change in the workplace. He explains that faced with change, and uncertain of where the change will lead them, businesses will adopt a strategy to remain flexible. If a direction proves incorrect, they are in a better position to change direction. Obviously the workplace can participate in, and reinforce the ability to be flexible.

At the core of this is the idea that the workplace does matter in the organization. Imagine that your manager announces that the way your company produces its work was going to be changed to respond to changes in your market. Teams would be formed, and would work intensively to deliver your product. You receive training, teams are organized, and each day you return to work in the same cubical, the same space, with the same neighbors, the teams don't communicate well, project goals are not infusing the work effort. Old work habits can be hard to break when the context is the same. But say you return to a new workspace organization, in the same space, teams are co-located, and share a common project space, project priorities and developments spread quickly among the work group and synergy emerges from peer to peer interactions on the project. New behaviors are easier to foster in a new context.

In order for this to happen there has to be a belief that the design of the workplace matters. That if you want to foster a new way to work, that a new place to do the work can reinforce that goal.

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