There are many different approaches to leadership. Stephen Fry, in character as the Duke of Wellington in Blackadder, once opined that it was “all down to shouting.” “Shout, shout and shout again!” he cried.
Leadership in the 21st century, however, requires a little more nuance. In business, inane barking is no substitute for considered, informed action and a clearly-defined workspace strategy. The latter is the subject of increasing scrutiny across the world in recent years – both at SME and MNC level. Recent research by prestigious real estate firm CBRE found that in Asia, for instance, multinationals see a refined workspace strategy as the optimum cost-saving initiative.
The key factor is efficiency. Efficiency in terms of finance; efficiency in terms of space usage; all leading to a greater efficiency in collective output.
The Science Behind Workspace Strategy
Around 50% of firms surveyed by CBRE were planning further investment in workspace efficiency programs in 2017 – with many ranking it as their top priority. A third cited the disposal of vacant space and lease renegotiation as central to these plans. Many others referred to third-party spaces and flexible working (including extensive use of co-working spaces) as suitable modern solutions.
All of these are progressively common trends in the global working culture of today. It makes natural sense to evaluate how much space a business really need, thereby cut out the space it doesn’t need. More important to the business, however, is crafting an analysis of how it might best exploit the space it has. How does one create a stimulating, attractive workplace which staff can feel a bond with, and that encourages regular collaborative work and consistent output? This question is at the heart of leading a modern workspace strategy.
The Enterprise Options
The format for the modern workspace is exemplified by the co-working spaces that emerged following the 2008 financial crash. These follow an open-plan philosophy, where no one desk belongs to a single employee and closed-off, individualised cubicles are eschewed in favour of more inclusive furniture. Natural light, bright colouring and plant life are common central features of the modern coworking space, as pioneered by WeWork and other providers.
Coworking spaces have become a wonderful and valuable commodity in the business world. Yet multinationals cannot be expected to rely wholly on those; they will have their own headquarters, and it is in their interests to make those premises as productive as possible. In mimicking the essential characteristics of the coworking space, they create an environment that reflects human nature. The freedom of each individual to move at will, collaborate with others and find the ideal space to work productively is the best growth driver available to the modern enterprise.
Laying The Foundations
The hitch in all this talk of mobile, flexible working is access to information. In an era where virtual data rules all actions and decisions, how does an employee maintain access wherever they are?
The answer is that this data must be stored remotely, rather than locally. By doing so, the information that staff require can be retrieved via a web connection from any location on the planet, rather than having it confined to one machine or location. This means that at the root of flexible, productive working is the cloud: the environment in which cloud can be securely stored for remote use. Furthermore, the ideal workspace is underpinned by scalable, reliable and secure connectivity to ensure that this access is rarely, if ever, compromised. These are the underlying functional bases which ensure that the more immediately striking elements, in terms of visual aesthetic and workspace furnishings, can all run smoothly.
Think of workspace strategy as a Christmas tree. Connectivity is the base that holds your tree in place. All that follows is built upwards from there, and without it structure falls apart. The cloud is the trunk, running through the centre of all commercial activity and giving all areas the capacity to flourish. The branches are the different areas of your building: each subtly different, each offering its own unique space for individual workers. The decorations represent the workspace features that a business chooses, in terms of interior design, furnishings, lighting, heating, plant life and so on. These are the supposed peripheral aspects; they are not strictly necessary, but they define your tree as unique and lift observers spiritually. It won’t be much of a triumph without them – and it could become the centrepiece of a positive, thriving environment with free, flexible movement for workers.
Building The Future
At the heart of the flexible workspace concept are the issues of modernity and choice. Modernity, in terms of embracing contemporary ergonomics and eliminating confined, solitary working. Choice, in expanding on such ergonomics and equipping workers with the tools to work how, when and where they feel they are productive. Wellbeing and output are the two factors that this strategy drives forward, and that is where the value is. A business will always do better with fresh, engaged workers. With the workspace strategy of the 21st century at a company’s heart, fresh, engaged workers are exactly what today's business leaders can create.
Viastak work to support businesses looking to leverage technology, in order to streamline the way they operate. We believe in creating flexible, dynamic enterprises that are equipped to deal with the demands of the modern global economy. To find out more, please get in touch.
Topics: Workplace Technologists
Written by Oliver Kiddell
Oliver Kiddell, Author at Viastak Technologists.