Traditional workspaces were straightforward and inflexible. Everyone would share a floor, separated by cubicles and (sometimes) walled-off individual offices. There might be a meeting room or two, or a kitchen with a break room, but everyone would have an individual workspace where they could accomplish their own tasks. To preserve a professional environment, everyone would be required to adhere to the same semi-formal dress code.
These days, workspaces are changing in ways that encourage more creativity from the entrepreneurs and employees who use them. But why are these changes taking place? And should your business be adopting these changes?
Drivers for Change
There are several factors working together to force more creative thinking in the context of workspaces:
· Technology. One of the most important driving factors is the emergence of new technologies, which allow work to be completed in new and different ways. Computers drastically changed how we work, but until relatively recently, they kept us tethered to a fixed location. Today, with a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone, it’s possible to do work practically anywhere. This flexibility has made it feasible to do most tasks in literally any location, at any time, meaning the fixed, traditional workspace is no longer as necessary as it used to be.
· A focus on teamwork and collaboration. It’s also arguable that businesses have become less individualistic, encouraging more collaboration and teamwork on a regular basis—at least in some industries. Marketers, developers, salespeople, and other roles now depend on the collaborative insights of an entire team to do their jobs effectively, and that means working in an environment where you can readily exchange ideas with others. This has encouraged the breakdown of traditional walls and barriers to communication in the office. Regular collaborative events, like the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Week, are also conducive to teambuilding and education; Venture X will be offering complimentary coworking during this event. Our full schedule of programming is coming soon. In the meantime, make sure to check out events like Toastmasters International or Atlantis Networking, also available through Venture X.
· Remote work. Thanks in part to the availability of remotely capable technology, remote work has become incredibly popular. Employers see the benefits of reducing overhead, while employees get more flexibility—and often work more productively too. But with more people working from home at least part of the time, and more businesses having changing, variable needs, offices have necessarily begun to evolve.
· Changing attitudes on office etiquette. It’s also important to note that the general perception of what constitutes a professional office atmosphere is changing. Much of this originated with Silicon Valley in the 1990s; founders of tech companies cared more about the work being done than their personal image or the image of their workers, especially when that image was cookie-cutter and established for decades. Other tech companies followed suit with relaxed dress codes and more casual office environments, partially in the hopes of standing out and attracting more talented candidates. Since then, the trend has influenced companies all over the country and in all different industries; even traditional sectors, like the financial industry, have started relaxing their previous dress codes and employee standards.
Major Forms of Evolution
Now let’s turn our attention to some of the ways that businesses have adapted to these new changes and factors for consideration:
· Open office plans. One of the first major changes to develop was the rise of the open office plan. The basic idea is to reduce any physical barriers preventing team members from seeing each other and communicating with each other; for example, open offices don’t usually have private, closed-off offices or segmented cubicles. Instead, they allow employees to work around tables or in big, open environments. This type of atmosphere naturally encourages more incidental communication, although it may have some downsides as well. In any case, even strict, segmented offices are starting to loosen their layouts in at least some key ways.
· Coworking spaces. Coworking spaces are one of the greatest developments for workplace environments to come from the past 20 years, and the idea is simple. Coworking spaces are flexible office environments with traditional fixtures like cubicles, private offices, open office areas, meeting rooms, and so on, but are made available to entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses, and other individuals who might need them. You can subscribe for a monthly fee or get a day pass if you only need one temporarily. Not only does it relieve the burden of an entrepreneur purchasing an office space of their own, it also allows each individual to use the workspace as they see fit—for some people, that might mean using the office every day and talking to as many people as possible. For others, it might mean utilizing a private meeting room on a semi-regular basis. The key attribute here is flexibility, and more workers are taking advantage of it.
At Venture X, we’re getting ready for the grand opening of Phase 2 on November 1st. Our Phase 2 building is a 6,500 square foot facility with space for teams of 1-70 people, complete with 20 offices and 75 seats. Schedule a behind-the-scenes tour, and get your first look over the dancing fountain in Rosemary Square.
· Opportunities to communicate. Even if an open office plan isn’t your workplace ideal, you’ll probably be interested in having more opportunities to communicate in one way or another. After all, communication is one of the best ways to foster creative problem solving. That could mean setting up more collaborative areas in your office, or simply adopting more communicative tools like project management systems and chat apps.
· Relaxed dress codes. Though you may not think much about what you wear to work each day, a relaxed dress code does have the potential to help you think more creatively. Rather than being boxed into a certain look, you can choose what you want to wear—and come to work in clothes that are both comfortable and in line with your personality. Ultimately, it leads to better creative output from your team members.
Should Your Business Evolve?
If your business relies on creativity for its success, like in the case of a graphic design agency or a web development company, you should definitely adopt an environment and office practices that encourage creativity from your workers. But that environment looks a little different to every entrepreneur and every employee. Think carefully about the office environment you want to construct for your team, and how that might affect their daily productivity—as well as their ability to engage with other people.
Is your business ready to evolve to keep pace with new standards for office environments? If so, check out Venture X—one of the most popular coworking spaces in the West Palm area (and with multiple other locations). Contact us to learn more about what our space can do for your business!