PART 2: My reflection on two panel discussions: ‘Enterprise 2.0′ and ‘Open Office Plans – Reality Check’
The first Trendforum panel discussion I attended in Cologne was “Modern Working Concepts – Web 2.0 & project teams – the future is now“. Five panelists gave their individual point of view on the subject and participated in a open discussion afterwards.
Birgit Gebhardt’s presentation on the Trendbüro‘s “New Work Order” report was pretty interesting. It’s a nice perspective on all aspects of the current change in information an knowledge work and spans from physical office concepts over the digital workspace to cultural and work organisational subjects.
What struck me by surprise was Sebastian Schmidt’s (Publicis, Berlin) take on the “Long Tail of Work”. He told the story of two potential future talents and their needs and expectation base on their individual life concepts. The only thing I perceived was an incredibly negative picture that seemed to be geared towards creating fear. Fear of not being prepared for what future talent might expect in the future and fear of the change that might be required to build a cultural bridge between today’s high performers and them. It felt a bit like “if you don’t start now you will be doomed because the future generations are the worst employees you can imagine – they have the power and you have to obey”. Very odd…very very odd.
In general I have to admit that the panel as well as some vendor’s concepts definitely were an indicator that the change in information work is already a reality. The change in digital workplaces and the way people collaborate definitely leaves its footprint in the concepts for physical workspaces – and the other way around. The more flexibility new work environments allow (or encourage) the more mobile and flexible the digital tool box has to become (and I am not referring to just the use of smartphones or tablet computers here).
The second session that left an impression with me was “Open Plan Office – a concept for the future or horror scenario?“. In particular Paul Franke (Franke & Partner) gave a presentation that was in line with his very critical perspective on the efficiency and effectiveness of open office concepts. It seems that more or less all aspects that were “promised” to improve with open office spaces turn out to be quite the opposite. Neither employee satisfaction nor workspace efficiency or productivity seem to substantially increase. It’s definitely worth it to read the (German) article on the subject.
To some extend I can even relate to the findings because concepts that are rolled out today are simply geared towards removing walls and squeezing as many people into one large space as possible. The need for privacy or remote collaboration is rarely addressed in a way that it’s really substantial. That’s why I am asking myself if today’s concepts really address the needs of tomorrow’s information work.
future_bizz and some key work thesis and questions that derived from the first wave of the initiative.