Projects are replacing Workplaces. Are you still behind?

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The nature of business in workplaces is changing. According to Sudhanshu Palsule, a leadership educator based in Cambridge, “Projects will become a very dominant organizational unit. Projects will replace silos, and for any one employee, having a portfolio of projects will become a norm.”

For many years, firms have been talking about boosting collaboration within their teams, promoting open leadership, and bringing about an open work environment. But, at the ground level, it hasn’t really happened across all organizations, the innovative ones have been able to adopt them faster than the rest. However, now the reality of office spaces has begun to change.

Before the Internet had invaded our lives, the definition of work was quite watertight. One went to one’s office in the morning, punched in one’s card, and sat down at one’s desk in a cubicle to deal with a pile of paperwork in the “In” tray. When the clock struck five, one heaved a sigh of relief and punched out. Once the employee was at home, he or she completely shut away the “office.”

Today, with the Internet having more intimate knowledge of you than even your partner, the very essence of workplaces has changed. Adam Pisoni, the co-founder of Yammer, an office social networking site says, “For years, there’s been increased tension between the old and new ways of working without translating into action. Thirty to 40-year-old ideas are now coming to fruition.”

Evolution of Workplaces

Work at office is becoming more project-centric, rather than location-centric. It is predicted that projects will gain paramount importance in offices worldwide. Thus, “work” is now becoming more about what you’re doing, instead of about where you’re going to do it. The 9 to 5 norm is being shed and the emphasis is now on getting the job done in the most efficient way possible.

In fact, certain companies have even taken the radical step of revoking their formal vacation policy. Employees work when they have projects to complete and can take leave when they feel that they need a break. Employees are also given the freedom to choose the geographical location from where they can work if they feel that it gives them the impetus to work on the project in a much better way. Thus, people will no longer be required to move around to complete a project.

This is where coworking spaces become important. With the sort of global collaboration going on and the accompanying support of the latest technological tools, meeting up in a single physical location for the purpose of work is not tenable. Virtual offices and telecommuting jobs are on the rise, as more and more managers realize that confining employees to fixed workstations and rigid working hours is not always the most efficient way to work.

Earlier, a company with 2,000 employees had to build office spaces to accommodate 2,000 desks. Now, with an open working environment, employees adhere to work schedules that suit them best and make full use of their most productive hours of the day. This sort of “out-of-the-box” (literally!) thinking helps bring down the rate of burnouts and consequently, the level of attrition. As Andrea Siudara, IT vice president says, “It’s more about results than it is about desktime.”

Transition of Workplaces

Siloed hierarchies and Cubed Workplace transformed into Project groups and Planned workplace, which further evolved into Creative minds and collaborative resources with open and shared workspaces.

The way work is done is also changing. Professor Sheen S. Levine from the University of Texas Business school opines, “…..a lot of work can be split into smaller pieces, digitized and shipped elsewhere for processing. They started with very simple jobs originally but now we see more and more sophisticated work.”

Thus, corporate bigwigs are now looking to bring managers on board who can manage workplaces and turn the focus to projects. With this fast-growing trend, businesses have no option but to adapt or be exposed to the risk of losing their competitive advantage.

 

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