Earlier this month, ComBlu relocated its offices within the John Hancock Building in Chicago. It wasn’t terribly traumatic, as we simply moved to a smaller space on the same floor. While my colleagues who led the charge may have a different opinion on the trauma involved, we had occupied our old space for 20+ years. After all – all told, it really wasn’t too bad. We didn’t even have to step foot outside or deal with moving vans, etc.
So, why did we move? We switched offices to better accommodate the way we work. ComBlu has always embraced family-friendly work-life balance issues long before it was in vogue. As a result, many of us work from home at least twice a week or more, and our colleague Jennifer lives in Colorado, so we only see her about once a month.
We simply didn’t need all the space we had.
Our new office set-up also fosters a more collaborative work environment – a trend many firms are embracing today. According to a December white paper by Oxford Properties, The Future of Work, it is no secret that while technology is doing a great job closing the time and distance gap, the physical office space is still a very important collaborative destination.
The study also states that, “The office space is far from obsolete as collaborative work cultures and environments are on the rise. In fact, 57% of respondents said they collaborate more than they did five years ago.”
This is very true at ComBlu, especially given the virtual nature of our employee base. Face-to-face interaction with our colleagues has become even more important, and we work hard to schedule our “in office” time together around tasks and projects for which in person time works best.
With our new office space we adopted a multi-concept layout with some private space with room for multiple people, and open concept spaces designed to serve as collaboration hubs which encourage greater connectivity and creative interaction.
Everyone has a designated place, but each work station is designed as a hoteling space, so colleagues can move around and meet with others as need be. Of course personalization is still encouraged, but it requires all of us to be neat and organized, so any colleague can just plop down at your space and seamlessly get to work.
The Future of Work white paper points out that, “Organizational culture is greatly influenced by direct human and environmental interaction, and there’s a great deal of collaborative innovation that happens within the four walls of an office.”
ComBlu is definitely ahead of the curve in this realm and in preparing for our future colleagues that will soon have a major impact on the workforce: millennials. According to a December Forbes article titled 10 Ways Millennials are Creating the Future of Work, “Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025 and by next year, they will account for 36% of the American workforce.”
What workplace issues will be hot with this emerging generation? Two of the top ten are collaboration and flexibility. The article states that, “They will build a collaborative organization. Millennials like to work in teams and on projects to accomplish goals. It’s less about what company they work for and more about who they are working with and the types of projects they work on.” They will also “make working from home the norm.”
So, how’s it going for us in our new clean and organized space? So far, so good. We have all had to adjust our work styles a bit in this more open space, but collaboration is now at the center of what we do. It is the best of both worlds – the flexibility we have all come to enjoy mixed with the collaborative space we all need.
Has your work environment kept pace with the changing demographic and nature of how we work today? I’d love to hear how it has – and hasn’t – impacted how you work.