Blog 2.: World of work
In the previous blog post we discussed why this issue is relevant. It is very important that the office environment is a complete system (eco-system), which attracts and motivates all the valued colleagues, optimizes costs, strengthens the company’s brand, makes collaboration efficient and last, but not least, grants the possibility of a healthier lifestyle while working.
In this blog I set out to show the megatrends that are changing our world (1st post) which have an impact on our working methods (2nd post) and the preferences of employers (3rd post). After the overview we will examine how could today’s office space turn into an eco-system, so that it can function as a strategic tool.
In this post we will discuss the changes in the world of work.
To do so we will have to clarify some expressions.
The first one is ‘Distributed Team’. This refers to a virtually diverse working group. We hear more often that the age of multinational companies expired, instead the globally integrated companies have a future. The business area is turning bipolar. The role as the economic engine gradually shifts from America to the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). With the increasing geographical coverage it is the age of ‘Extremistan’ (see in previous post). The need of innovation and cost-effectiveness pose new challenges for multinational companies. It is no longer a viable way to duplicate the key roles on fields where they are present. Years ago, Sam Palmisano, the CEO of IBM at the time started to introduce and develop a ‘globally integrated enterprise’ which means that these companies organize their strategy, management and operational functioning to reach a new goal, namely, that the manufacturing and value-producing processes should be globally integrated. They need to find the best professionals, who can manage several countries or regions. This way the cumbersome, lengthy and costly process that was used in each country to set up an association and train its local management, now can be avoided. This way the management does not necessarily have to live in the given country, they can live anywhere in the world. Today’s technology makes it possible for a team working together to be physically far, thereby creating virtually cooperative organizations.
There is a growing phenomenon in our clientele that companies cease director positions, and they give them to foreign employees to oversee the work in Hungary as well. In parallel the directors still employed have not only local but also multinational responsibility. Thus work becomes more diverse and complex. A cultural, professional and generational difference also appears in the working teams’ relations.
The office space has a key role in providing a place which supports physical and virtual collaboration. We see often that even if there are large meeting rooms built for video conferences (for 12-30 people), because of the aforementioned changes, the most common case is a 2-4 persons’ video meeting. A counter example is when applications such as WEBEX, LYNK, GoToMeeting, LogMeIn or Skype are used at desks for virtual communication in the open office space thus disturbing others. An excellent tool for the management of cultural and generational differences is space-conscious design, which makes a virtue out of necessity. I will discuss the solutions for this later.
2.Innovation, Creativity, Cost effectiveness and LEAN
Although the innovation and cost effectiveness are not new concepts, they also bear new meaning.
IBM’s Global C-suite Study surveyed 4 000 directors and over 60 % chose creativity as the most important skill for executives, ahead of integrity or global thinking. Without creativity there is no innovation. The adaptability to the constant renewal and quickly changing situations has become essential in the business world (see also the case of Nokia phones).
Therefore the leading companies in their field of practice increasingly focus on their core business and they give out all other activities to different organizations– in other words they are outsourcing. This means, they assign these activities to such companies whose key area covers the given task, e.g. accounting, financial, operational or IT tasks. More and more service centres appear in Hungary as well.
According to the LEAN theory any activity that does not create value for the customer is waste. The customer can be external or internal, meaning it can be someone from a different department or company within the group or someone who is involved in the creation of the final product or service.
In connection with cost-effectiveness and creativity the office has a major role. From the point of cost-effectiveness, we often see when observing offices that some rooms and desks are empty. Many surveys have shown that around 30-40 % of office space is unused. With strategic planning of an office we focus on that our customers will only rent the space needed for their operations and that every m2 is best utilized so that it will produce value (as stated in LEAN concept). I will discuss the possibilities of this and that how we can influence creativity and innovation positively in a later blog post.
3.Speed and Design Thinking
We cannot leave out from this topic design thinking either. Nowadays quick decision making is essential if you do not want to fall behind the competition. A sped up, flexible approach has to replace the prolonged cycles of analysis. As soon as we feel like we know enough about a topic, with the help of observation, experiences, intuition and collaborating with our team we have to decide and choose. We have to fight the urge to wait until all data and analysis is available. Flexibility is necessary to quickly learn from the consequences of our decisions and change if needed. In this approach the intuitive and analytical thinking are intertwined and combined with effective teamwork.
We can ask the usual provocative question again: does your workplace support quick-decision making processes? An answer will be found in later blogs.
Kis Károly | Károly Kis
ügyvezető partner | Managing Partner | BLUE Business Interior Kft.