Our Thinking Tue 20th October, 2020
Workspaces of the future
Does your organisation prize creativity, innovation, and diversity?
Do you recognise the benefits of remote working, but you’re energised and inspired by the prospect of returning to the office? We have a vision of workspaces of the future that we think you might like to speak to us about.
“We bring experts and clients into a haven. A space of freedom that fosters mutually beneficial and genuine relationships. So that we can make things better while learning from each other.”
– Thomas Granier, Equal Experts CEO, 2019
The Office Is a Cauldron of Ideas
Thomas, like many business leaders, believes that the office is a cauldron of ideas and the weaving loom of the company’s social fabric. Combined with Equal Experts’ culture of open collaboration, the office is where knowledge sharing happens without even trying.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in all Equal Experts clients finding themselves with an entirely virtual workforce, all of a sudden. For many, the need to get back to the office is clear. This return is certain to happen, tentatively at first as we learn to live with the virus or a vaccine becomes widely available, but then many will be tempted to rush back to pre-COVID arrangements.
Remote Work Works
All that said, Equal Experts and client co-creation teams have been delivering remotely during the crisis with great success. Indeed, productivity has improved thanks to the skills and experience in remote-working from our consultants.
We are advocates of remote-first working practices, and our Remote Working Playbook has been available on our website for everyone to use long before lockdown. Our many years of experience tells us that if any team member is remote, all team members should be remote. Otherwise remote colleagues are excluded from team activities, hurting their productivity.
Our assessment is that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to the remote-first practices we have long recommended, and it has proven that remote-work delivers results at scale. Almost everyone we work with has adapted to Working From Home (WFH) arrangements, and there is now a critical mass of cognitive workers accessible digitally, regardless of physical location, e.g. home, office, or co-working space.
Horns of a Dilemma
The productivity gains of remote-first working are clear. It saves countless hours spent travelling, and many people have been able to improve their work-life integration.
“We narrow our focus, but widen our context” – Equal Experts, Our Values
However, we also have a critical need to spend face-to-face time in the office. For some of our people, this is because it’s where friendships, relationships, and communities are found. For our business, it’s because our client’s perceived value of our services is amplified when they are directly seeing how we work and because this is the best way for us to widen our context and tune into the tacit knowledge dispersed across the organisation.
So we find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma. Our challenge is how to meld these two seemingly incompatible worlds into one experience that works for individuals and delivers for the organisation as a whole.
Workspaces of the Future
Our vision is of a workspace of the future that combines the productivity of remote-first best practices, with the cognitive diversity that emerges from serendipitous “social collisions” across teams during office-time.
This is an innovation and a disruptive approach to organisational behaviour. It’s a total rethink on how we spend our precious office-time, augmented by digital technology. The transition to ubiquitous remote-work has been profound and will have long-lasting impact. Our work here is to weave back in the wider social fabric so that we can create and make things better, together.
We are planning a feasibility study for which we are partnering with start-ups Ocyan and Mammoth, and welcoming Dr. Daniel Beunza as our Organisation Science advisor. Mammoth are data analytics specialists and bring their rapid deployment data platform, while UK Fintech – Ocyan brings considerable expertise in blockchain infrastructure. Daniel is Associate Professor of Management at Cass Business School.
So, we hope we’ve piqued your interest and would very much welcome hearing from you – email us if you’d like to speak to us and find out more.