I graduated from college in the mid 90s when the digital age was just taking off. The internet was becoming a tool not just executives had access to, desktop computers were ordered for all and we still were expected (as women) to wear pantyhose and a suit to the office. You got in at 6:30-7 every day and punched a clock until 5:00 pm. At the turn of the century, offices across the world began a quiet yet big transformation: the shift to digital working. Overnight we went “borderless”, “doorless”, and “timeless”.
I’ve worked a global job for almost 10 years now. As I sit and write this post, I’m in a room with WIFI plugged into my IPOD listening to some great music. My work can happen anywhere and anytime. The beauty of the digital age is its created the freedom! It’s also a big problem. Now more than ever we are working longer, working more and it’s becoming an “expectation” to stay connected. This has created a generation of “always on”.
The most recent shift in the workplace in the past 3 years has been moving offices to “open concept”. When I worked at Shell, we began making office spaces smaller, providing IP phones to everyone, eliminating desk phones and equipping teams with technology to enable working from anywhere in the world.
I’ve come to miss an office. Actually, it’s not the office I miss, I miss having a door. I’ve spent half of my career in an office. Having a sliding glass door gave me the opportunity to set a boundary when I needed it…so that I could get work done.
At BP, like many, I have a cube. We are moving to open workspaces with the expectation that most of the workforce will shift in the next 12 months. This is not uncommon elsewhere. I have to be honest, I don’t sit at my desk most of the day. I utilize new workspaces to get away from my work area to get real work done.
Here’s a picture of where I go when I want to get productive time. Step into my new “office”…yes, that’s a fake fireplace with some shrink-like sofas. It really gets the creativity going.
What about you? What are you doing to cope in a borderless, doorless and timeless workplace?