“Work anywhere” is no way to work

man-at-desk-outside

Whoever gets the idea that we should be able to work anywhere, anytime, and who proceeds to build a corporate work environment around this specious idea, should be required to do the following before launching their strategy:

  • Make a webinar presentation from the backseat of a taxi
  • Conduct a sensitive employee review in the office atrium
  • Have a board meeting in a coffee shop
  • Overhaul a delivery truck engine in the break room

It’s obvious that the task and the environment are mismatched in each case, but they illustrate the fallacy of this idea we’ve perpetuated that we should be able to perform our work anywhere. This needs to stop.

For each activity, there is a set of requirements that leads to a best suited environment – a closed room or office environment to conduct an interview, an auditorium to present an idea to a large number of people, or the coffee shop to get to know a new mentor or the client’s office to present a new proposal.

Areas designated for purposes such as thinking, creating, communicating, collaborating and connecting deliver a much more positive experience, and a positive upswing in output. That’s why environment is a critical aspect of the definition of workplace, and there is a lot we can do here to shape the ideal environment.

Through design of walls and layouts, it is possible to create spaces for ad-hoc team meetings, intense project reviews, personnel interviews, performance reviews, etc., as well as quality thinking space.  Facilities, IT and technology can all collaborate to make these spaces compelling and enable people to be more productive.

Get this right, and workplace morale, output and collaboration will go up dramatically. Simply put, we should not force (or expect) people to work ANYWHERE. Instead we need to create the right spaces for the activities people need to do.


Marc WilkinsonMarc Wilkinson was DXC Technology’s chief technology officer for Workplace & Mobility. He left DXC in October 2019.

Comments

  1. Pino De Francesco says:

    I believe that with a few exceptions (like the four mentioned in the article) it is indeed possible and a good thing to be able to work anywhere. A coder can code anywhere (s)he feels at ease as long has a connection and all relevant security in place. Same applies to design architectures, UX and so on. Working from home especially gives people back hours of family life, taking away the burden of driving in traffic hours every day to… have Skype meetings with people all around the globe, something that can be done from a home office, a hotel room, a yacht cabin and so many other places 🙂 What I mean is that the principle of working anywhere is good, and doesn’t conflict with the fact that there are indeed activities that can only be carried out in the office: in my opinion the two concepts co-exist pretty well.

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