In our white paper ‘Strangers in the office’, author Rob Stuthridge proposed that contemporary workplace design is often ill-equipped to accommodate uncertainty, representing reductionist and utilitarian concepts of what constitutes “work,” and what workers can and should do.

The organisation that reflects a command-and-control model inevitably creates a machine-like, dehumanised work environment, in which fixed rules and procedures are paramount.

In command-and-control organisations, new technology is not selected on the basis of usability so much as utility. It is applied from the top down, often controlled by specialists in information technology, as with all decisions affecting “work systems.” This represents a substantive division of labour fundamentally akin to that of the industrial revolution and the automation of industrial, office, educational and scientific institutions.

The pattern of management in such organisations is “the few control the many,” and communications management specialists may limit or suppresses innovation and the adoption of emerging technologies. The goals of this traditional form of organisation are reliability, forward planning, and the provision of contingencies to deal with the “unexpected,” which is likely to be viewed with apprehension.

These organisations will miss the opportunity to create dynamic, stimulating, technology-embracing workplaces. This impairs their ability to recruit the most profitable workers—those whose natural inclination is to harness emerging technologies to maximise not only their productivity but also the intrinsic reward that is derived from creativity and success.

In an organisation that encourages innovation, people will be encouraged to adopt mutually supportive roles which allow them to employ their social skills flexibly to meet the needs of the situation. This includes allowing employees who have rapidly acquired skills in emergent technologies to pass this expertise on to colleagues on an ad hoc or more formal basis.

This form of cross-fertilisation would have the dual benefit not only of engaging those with interest in such technology to contribute to the development of the business, but also for the business itself to leverage those skills for potential commercial gain.

Training is undertaken freely and voluntarily and need not be driven by processes, but by a desire to enhance the work experience at the same time as bringing personal satisfaction to a higher level. New technology is adopted on the basis that it enhances human performance and communication. Communications management ceases to be a system that dictates which technologies are adopted, instead providing “support” or “facilitating” the corporate integration of the technology.

The innovative workplace will be designed with several things in mind: It will maximise the humanness of the space, which will be person-centred not process-centred; it will not be tied to current technologies or ways of working; it will enhance creativity; it will reflect a dynamic organisational structure that is graphically represented as either horizontal or an inverted pyramid.

You can download the complete ‘Strangers in the Office’ whitepaper here