Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Environments & The Death Of The Office

I took Crystal to the dentist today, and instead of sitting in the waiting room reading magazines from the Clinton administration I elected to go to Chapters and read something current.

I stumbled across Rework (a book I had been hoping to take out from the library) and sat down to read it.  It wasn't a very tough read, so I finished it before Crystal called me to say she was done.

The chapter I found most interesting was about work environments.  I'm a big proponent that the environment has a HUGE effect on the experience.  The environment makes or breaks a concert.  The work environment has a huge effect on a) productivity and b) morale.

The book said that you cannot intentionally create the work environment.  The environment is a byproduct of the way management treats the employees. 

If they aren't trusted to do their job, and are management is always looking over their shoulder to make sure they are "on-track", then the work environment will be more like a prison than a community.  If management encourages socializing, joking and building relationships within the office walls, then the work environment will be more enjoyable and more like a community of friends.

But what about productivity?  If the employees are socializing, then their productivity suffers.  That is partly true.

They did a study and found that when employees are given more rope/freedom, their productivity goes up by nearly double. 

They also mentioned that you need to have people on board that buy into the vision.  If they don't buy in, then they shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

It's an interesting concept.  I've worked in some environments where socializing with co-workers is strictly forbidden.  I have also worked in environments where socializing took a huge bite out of productivity.  I think it's a delicate balance. 

I'd say the best way is the evaluate people is not by how much time they spend in the office, but by the outcomes of their goals.  If they hit their goals, why does it matter how much time they spent tied down to their cubicle?  If they are only in the office 2 hrs a day, but they nailed their goals, isn't that a success?  Maybe they work best outside the office?

With the advancement of technology, I'd say the "office" is almost obsolete... but that's a post for another day.


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