Innovations in Office Design:
The Critical Influence Approach to Effective Work Environments
Recipient of the International Facility Management Association's (IFMA) Award of Excellence, Distinguished Author for a Book
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This book is an essential read for any professionals in the corporate real estate/facilities/human resources realm, and quite frankly should be required reading material for anyone sitting in the C-suite. Innovations in Office Design is expertly-written and gives readers a detailed look into the different factors that affect productivity and collaboration of the workforce. The title may be a bit misleading; the book is more about how to assess an organization through the 15 critical lenses which have an impact on the workplace, as opposed to merely the physical office. As such, readers will really learn a different way of looking at their organization and will realize that the physical office environment is just one of multiple factors that have a say in the health of an organization.
Diane Stegmeier really knows her stuff. The book offers examples of best practices from successful organizations around the globe, and with how many examples she offers, I'd find it hard to believe that an executive from any organization could read through the book and not find one example of how to improve their own organization's effectiveness.
You'd be a fool not to read this if you fit into any of the following categories:
-Corporate Real Estate professionals
-Corporate executives (CEOs and the such)
-You're considering moving into a new office/building
-You're attempting to implement alternative workplace strategies (telework/flexwork/shared space/open office environment/hoteling/reducing private offices and cubicles)
-You'd like your organization to be more collaborative/innovative
-Your company is hemorrhaging talent
-Your organization or office seems like something is missing
They should have named this book "Effective Workplaces for Dummies" because this book is the seminal piece for anyone looking to get the most out of their office and workforce.
- Dr. Prentice Knight, former CEO of CoreNet Global
- Greg Bendis, global real estate strategist
- Heidi Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief of Today's Facility Manager Magazine
On the topic of the multigenerational workforce...
In many organizations today, members of the two youngest groups in the workforce, the millennial generation (born 1975 and after) and Generation Xers (born between 1961 and 1974) are not in significant positions of power and so have to play by the rules created by the veteran generation (born before 1946) and being enforced by the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). Many members of the millennial generation and Gen Xers may not yet be in supervisory or management positions, but they will be soon. As they gain work experiences to help them advance in their careers, many business leaders wonder whether these workers' social skills and approach to human interaction in the workplace will be adequate to drive organizational success.
To illustrate this issue, here's an example related to one Critical Influence on collaborative behavior--communications. A 50-year-old individual working in a particular office building may prefer to contact a colleague to compare calendars and schedule a meeting electronically to be held in his or her private office, attaching an agenda to efficiently discuss a topic of medium-range importance. Elsewhere in that same office is a 20-something member of the workforce, who makes a critical career decision on the spot and submits his or her resignation with no advanced notice via a text message to the manager, who happens to be sitting six feet away. While the more mature generations may employ technology to orchestrate human interactions, I often hear clients express concerns that younger workers may be relying too heavily on technology to compensate for their less-developed social skills. For Stegmeier Consulting Group's clients, strengthening internal communications is consistently an area targeted for improvement. Workshops such as our Business Communications Boot Camp (BC2) have evolved over time and now place significant emphasis on the diversity of communication styles in multigenerational work environments.
In general, the pendulum is swinging away from work environments where managers strive to earn the right to physical spaces that symbolize prestigious titles and the associated authority. Both highly defined dress codes and protocols for addressing authority figures are today being challenged and, as a result, are becoming less rigid. The pendulum is moving toward environments where staff members expect to be engaged every day in work that is important, to be given opportunities to make an impact today, and to be offered growth potential in the future. These organizations encourage managing, coaching, and development among staff levels. A growing emphasis is on serving the people at lower levels of the organization--the next generation of leaders.
Shifting generational attitudes can be manifested in the physical space. A workplace strategy that includes flexible scheduling and options such as working from satellite offices or telecommuting can contribute to meeting the widespread desire for an improved quality of life for the entire workforce. The notion of providing a dedicated workspace for each employee is costly in terms of real estate, furniture, and work tools, and long outdated. In Chapter 5, we'll look at some very impressive quantitative results realized by enterprises that have adopted new approaches to allocating their physical office space. In particular, Cisco has documented some formidable results that will get the attention of the most skeptical reader.
On the topic of flexibility to enable work-life balance...
The organization dedicated to doing what is necessary to support a new strategic direction must make tough decisions when creating the appropriate work environment--regardless of intense overt resistance and silent sabotage working covertly to undermine all good intentions. The welcome news is that workplace professionals don't have to go it alone, if their senior leaders understand the Critical Influence System and the power physical space has on behavior. The workplace should never bear 100 percent of the burden of transforming the way people work.
In Chapter 5, I'll introduce you to organizations in the financial, high- technology, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, telecommunications, and professional services, as well as the U.S. federal government. We'll take a look at a number of winners of Fortune Magazine's Best Companies to Work for in America and the Great Places to Work Institute's Best Small and Best Medium Companies to Work for in America. You'll read about diverse approaches taken by the architectural and design communities in serving their clients. You'll find that though challenges and approaches may differ, there's a commonality in the emphasis placed on building flexibility into the workplace solution, to enable the physical space to morph in response to future changes in business direction.
Copyright © 2008 Diane Stegmeier. All rights reserved. This material is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced without prior written permission of the author.
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