Over a period of 25 years, the world has witnessed transforming evolution on many fronts, one of them being ‘workplace’. People spend most of their productive time in the workplace, changes in workplace design, diversity, functions etc; tends to have a direct impact on the working environment, productivity, performance, and employee’s growth etc.
More than two decades ago technology had a small contribution to the workplace. It was a time when the emphasis was more on set standards, patterns, and processes. The business environment was not fast changing, employees preferred stability in the job with respect to tenure. Whereas nowadays workplace is more technology and data-driven, the focus has shifted towards getting things done. Learning and development opportunities have become one of the driving factors for a better workplace, working in collaboration has gained importance, remote workplaces are emerging rapidly along with increased autonomy.
Workplace has faced the challenge of accommodating people from diverse culture, background and a constant clash between the traditional and modern concepts of work, conditions, and values used to persist. But now, due to constant changes being brought about, this issue too has been resolved to a great extent. The cubes in the workplace are getting replaced by open spaces, comfortable seats, with increased infrastructure like prayer rooms, meditation rooms, diverse kitchen etc. The idea today is to provide a workplace where the environment is friendly, and people can feel at ease while working.
The evolution of workplace has a direct impact on the working environment. It reflects how the organization is going to work, the direction in which it is thinking, it’s values and the objective organization is eyeing to achieve. Following are some key impacts the evolution of the workplace has had on the working environment:
1. Reduced Hierarchical Structure: In order to adapt with the fast-changing market, having long organizational hierarchies is not ideal. They prove to be inefficient in a constantly changing environment. Hierarchical structure being replaced by a cross-unit organizational structure where different units work in collaboration resulting in fewer layers and suburbanized decision making.
2. Team Based Performance: Workplaces are now getting designed to enable team-based contribution rather than individual contribution. Organizations are now realizing that in order to reduce inefficiency and for better work process, team-based performance is necessary.
3. Creativity: The evolution of workplace is now seeing increased recognition of creativity and its importance in the better performance of the organization, hence the workplace is getting designed to provide specific places to nurture creativity or have a creative theme to relax the overall environment.
4. Different Management Perspective: From the perspective of making workers comply with rules, regulations and orders, management is now moving towards guiding workers to be committed to organizational objectives and mission. The role of managers is now more of a social supporter and coach rather than a source of getting orders.
5. Continuous Reinvention and Change: Workplace designed with creativity and welcome meeting places reflects that organization is open and ready for adapting something different or new to improve their performance in any aspect be it consumer satisfaction, employee engagement, adaptation to market change etc.
6. Flexibility: Increased technological use has given birth to remote workplaces thus enabling workers to choose their own schedule and also work from places away from the office. This has also enabled organizations to be live 24*7 and give employees the flexibility of choosing their own time and place.
7. Relationship and Networking: Open workspace, welcome meeting spaces, increased team-based performance etc are being put in place for relationship building and networking. Today’s environment has increased the importance of relationships and networking for business growth and workplaces are adhering to this need.
8. Pressure for Communication and Information Flow: Changed management perspective, loose boundaries, team-based performance are increasing more pressure on communication and information flow. This is getting taken care by technological advancements. Communication is one of the prime areas of technological advancements. Evolution of the workplace and establishing improved communication and information technologies are interrelated.
9. Flexible Infrastructure: Some workplaces are also being built with a mobile infrastructure to enable easy reconfiguration in case of reorganization and restructuring. This is mostly the case with startups who are starting out in a fast-changing environment and are also in the process of finding their best fit of organizational structure.
10. Improved Work Life Quality: Workplaces are now holding more features and amenities, thus contributing towards a relaxed and stress-free environment. Attractive daylight views, the inclusion of coffee shops, breakfast desk, games, etc are becoming integral parts of a workplace design and structure.
The workplace is one of the basic elements which contribute to the working environment. Evolution in the workplace has brought about key transformations in a working environment like increased friendliness, transparency, effective communication, clearing prejudices about employers in the minds of employees because of cabin culture fading away. There is also a trend of theme based workplaces being designed by companies which reflect their way of working or the services they provide. It helps the employee be in a certain mood to facilitate smooth functioning and optimum efficiency. Evolving working environment has also contributed to the evolution of the workplace to facilitate more team-based performance, effective flow of information and improving the work-life quality. Therefore, we can say that over the years evolution of working environment and workplace has happened in a cause and effect relationship where each of them have played a dual role depending on the concerned areas as discussed above.