Work Is Not A Place
I read this tweet today, quoting outgoing Citrix CEO Mark Templeton :
— David Smith (@DavidSmith_IT) June 10, 2014
Having worked on collaboration services for decades and promoted virtual team working, mobile working and home working for almost as long it’s my inclination to agree. But I also find myself disagreeing, because if we only think of work as an activity that can take place anywhere we have a screen, or dial into a conference call we are missing something. A well designed work place can add so much to the experience and the effectiveness of work.
I think work is best thought of as both a place and an activity, designed to be better together. A good work place should be designed to maximise the effectiveness and enjoyment of different types of work activity in a way that’s very difficult if not impossible to fully achieve virtually. Just because technology enables us to work wherever we are, we should not assume that wherever we are is the best place to work.
For example my preferred approach is to always provide the processes and tools to enable virtual participation in teams, whilst at the same time encouraging team members to co-locate in a collaborative workplace whenever a high degree of common ground is required for success.
In my work I think of a good workplace strategy as having three components:
- the services that enable effective mobile, co-located and virtual team working
- the services that enable flexible, collaborative, space efficient physical workplace
- and the working practices that glue them all together
Over time technology gradually chips away at the advantages that can be provided by a well designed workplace, but it’s not there yet for many work activities.
The photo shows the Beach Terrace Cafe where I will be working over breakfast. It’s the perfect spot for solitary reading and writing, but later today I will be in the office with a group of guys all in the same room as a whiteboard.