No, not flirting with co-workers behind the filing cabinet, but a moment of frivolous relaxation on the way to or home from the office. People used to have to go to the office because it was the only place where they could obtain the information they needed to be able to do their work. However, with current internet speeds, there is no reason whatsoever to go to the office to fulfil this particular need. At the moment, the world record is 53GB per second!!!!!! (Caltech Nov 2012). So why do we put up with getting stuck in traffic jams every day? A study carried out by the Dutch bank SNS showed that about sixty per cent of motorists flirt when they are in a traffic jam. Could this be the reason why we think it is more fun to be at the office than at home? Or does it give us status and prestige? Or are we searching for a social environment in which we can work? It is a known fact that a large proportion of the people who use work locations like Seats2Meet are self-employed. Apparently, working alone is less inspirational or is not worthwhile from a business perspective. Incidentally, working alone is slightly different to ‘working from home’ using a concept based on the New Way of Working. The self-employed are a prime example of ‘Me Ltds’ – people who find their own way and make their own decisions. Faith Popcorn coined the term self-navigators for them back in 1996. This all shows that ‘going to the office’ is related to the network, the place where you feel at home and where you can ‘meet your minds’.
This heading naturally brings to mind the obvious jokes about relationships at work. Twenty-five per cent of all relationships start at people’s places of work. Research performed by Marie Claire magazine has revealed that fifty per cent of all female workers have had sex with a colleague at one time or another. Many people have more social contacts at the office than at home. Forty per cent of present-day office workers are single. Because of the cosy furnishings, today’s office has almost become a substitute family home. What do you mean keeping work and private life separate? For HRM managers, this certainly generates instruments that support binding with the office and the company. This benefits every employer. Colleagues only open up to one another when they know and trust each other. Meeting people in person is an essential aspect of this. It enables you to build up a network with which you can be successful in business.
Birds of a feather flock together; Increase the opportunities people have to meet together
The main reason for going to the office is to meet colleagues. This means planners and designers have to increase the opportunities people have to meet together by laying out an office in a particular way. An open structure and setting up recognisable ‘districts’ in an office are examples of this. You have to know where the people from finance normally sit and where, for example, marketing & sales is localised. Whether you – or other people – go and sit in the same place is up to you. Hubs are also important. They form spontaneously or are created by combining various functionalities in the same space. This works in traditional office set-ups, but is definitely improved upon in offices based on the New Way of Working. The functionalities can be a drink vending machine, lockers, a facility corner, a cloakroom, a copier, a balcony, a PUP for hard copy post, an archive, a library, etc.
Out of your comfort zone
If people in an office have their own cellular workplace, they will tend to spend the whole day there. They will only vacate their ‘cell’ in a dire emergency (or to have something to eat or go to the toilet). The cell is their comfort zone. The chance of meeting someone else in their department each day is only twenty-five per cent; the chance of meeting other co-workers is pretty much ZERO. It has been proven that good colleagues and a friendly atmosphere at work make very firm arguments for staying with an employer and because people have to be given the opportunity to make ‘contact’ with each other, they should not be assigned a personal workplace, especially in an outmoded shut-off office cell.