I was reading portions of Richard Florida’s “The Rise of the Creative Class” yesterday, and it provided some great cultural and sociological perspective that overlaps in many ways with what we’re exploring here.
What I found interesting was his perspective on the workplace: Florida, too, acknowledges that a new generation of workers will be demanding a better workplace and a better relationship with employers, but he takes a slightly different angle– suggesting that employers will have to improve the layouts and management of their spaces to accommodate a more creative environment, as opposed to simply releasing people from the office altogether.
It’s important to keep in mind that the technological revolution we are in the early stages of is one that is going to transform life and work on lots of levels: while I’m Outta Here focuses on the people who have gotten out of the office (or never been in one), and the many who will follow, many companies will retain employees in central or satellite offices… and those offices will change too.
There will be a whole spectrum of shifts, from businesses that virtualize completely to ones that retain their offices and simply repurpose them.
And that’s a good thing too. The rise of coworking is proof that, when people are left to decide where they work, they often naturally choose to work along with each other, so many smart businesses will likely recognize that they must create an environment that people would *want* to work in, if getting employees together in the same place is important to them.
When I visited my friend Paul’s office, I was surprised at how social an environment it was for him. Just showing me around his floor, he said hello to ten or more people, each with a work area decorated to their own style.
The point? People *like* some aspects of working in an office.
What if a company focused on making the office a place you’d voluntarily want to work in? What if, one day, they announced, “OK, you don’t need to come into the office anymore! Work where you want!” And employees came in anyway?
The company will inevitably still save on office space and overhead, as many may choose to work elsewhere, but the space they retain will be used for good, useful, healthy, necessary gathering and collaboration.
And that’s a good thing. If the changes come to you, you may not have to say “I’m outta here” to be part of the revolution after all.