Coworking, Swarming, and the Agile Workplace Research Summary / 2
In the workplace, achieving this kind o seamless interaction among groups oindividuals has proven elusive. But with converging developments in technology,social media, and cognitive science comes the prospect o achieving breakthroughlevels o organizational collaboration. What role, i any, will the physical workplaceplay in this transormation?Over the past two decades, digital technology and the internet have radicallychanged communication processes and the nature o work itsel. Mobile devices likeiPads and smart phones and interactive applications like blogs, wikis, and socialmedia—collectively reerred to as Web 2.0—create networked environments withhuge potential or supporting collaboration among widely dispersed groups o people.Putting this transormation into perspective, sotware entrepreneur Bill Colemannotes that “the most powerul inection points in the history o mankind have comewhen new tools were developed to leverage and expand collective intelligence.”The rise o the internet, he says, is the third such inection point, the frst being thedevelopment o language, and the second the invention o the printing press.
What the impact o Web 2.0 is—or could or should be—on businesses organizationsand the ofces in which their members have traditionally come together in orderto communicate (and, it is hoped, leverage their collective intelligence) is still beingdebated. Many speculate that, with people no longer needing to be in the sameplace at the same time to share inormation and ideas, the ofce building as weknow it is destined or obsolescence.
I the recent past is any indication, however, reports o the death o the ofcecontinue to be highly exaggerated. The predicted mass exodus to home ofces hasnot materialized. A recent survey ound that less than two percent o people workingor large employers worldwide work rom home, and that most (over 60 percent) stillcommute to an ofce our or fve days a week.
In act, there are signs that the trend may be moving in the opposite direction. Aninternational survey undertaken or Johnson Controls in 2010 ound a signifcantincrease in the amount o time people spent working at the ofce. Respondents(all o whom were identifed as “exible workers,” whose employers allow somediscretion in when and where they work) reported spending an average o 45 percento their work time “in the ofce,” up rom 18 percent in 2007, while percentages otime working rom home and “on the move” decreased compared to 2007 levels.
In his introduction to the report,
Flexible Working 2010
, Chairman o the OfceProductivity Network Paul Bartlett writes, “there is no evidence that employersinuenced or requested this shit in behavior,” and that workers are increasinglychoosing to use the corporate ofce “as a place to meet, interact, and collaborate.”According to the report, the act that 64 percent o its respondents indicated thatgoing to the ofce was “important” or “extremely important,” “demonstrates howmuch ace-to-ace interaction is an important part o the working lie.”
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Flexible Working 2010