The odds are pretty good that you're reading this on a phone, tablet, or laptop. Mobility is everywhere, and people are embracing it in their everyday lives. Recipe books? Gone. iPad in the kitchen. Fold out maps? Gone. Google Maps. Landline phone? Gone. Cell phone. DVDs? Gone. Streaming movies. I think you get the idea.
But with mobility taking over our everyday experiences, we need to begin considering how it will begin to disrupt another important aspect of our lives: The Workplace.
It is probably safe to say that 99% of offices have not embraced mobility, but rather tacked on some small aspects of mobility to their existing workplace systems. Wi-fi networks, laptops, mobile phones, etc… But at some point in the future, workplaces will transition to being mobile-first. That is, a workplace where the ability to be mobile is the primary driver of the office's design.
What would that will look like is anybody guess, but I have a few ideas of elements we might see in the future, mobile-first office:
- Hotdesking / Hoteling – This is the idea that not everyone has an assigned desk, but rather finds a suitable workspace to complete their tasks. In our mobile-first office, many people will be out, moving around so an assigned desk will essentially be unnecessary.
- Privacy Rooms – People need privacy and most workplaces don't accomodate for it. In our mobile-first office, people will be videoconferencing, on their phones, and discussing with teams so privacy will be important for those communicating. It will also be important for others to not be distracted. I think all offices need phonebooths and privacy rooms, but this is especially true for offices that transition to a mobile-first mentality.
- Video Conferencing – With employees being mobile, they might be working from home, from coworking offices, or other company locations. Face-to-face communication is still important so video-conferencing will be something that becomes much more normal for companies that embrace mobile-workstyles.
- Flexible Hours – Now that employees are freed from working solely from their desk, work can happen anywhere. Flexible hours will help employees get work done anywhere, anytime, so long as their work actually gets completed.
Making the switch
While all of this sounds interesting, and possibly like something you'd be interested in, many responses I've heard to these ideas are very negative. Why? From what I can tell, not having a desk is the most difficult thing for employees to get used to. That said, going mobile-first from mobile-maybe is a big change and it need sto be taken seriously. Here are some considerations you might want to think about:
- Try it out: If you're looking to move to a moble-first work environment, give it a try on a limited basis to see how it goes and address any problems or questions that arise. Perhaps have staff use Fridays as a mobile work day.
- Data-security: If employees are trapsing around the city, state, country or world with company data on their laptops, security is an incredibly important aspect to consider. However, The Guardian recently wrote that security doesn't need to curb flexibility.
- Manage The Change: One of the best ways to make a big workpalce change is to have an actual plan and to communicate the reasons for such a change. Here is a handy introduction to Change Management that can help.
- Finding a Space on the Go: One way to encourage employees to work mobile is to help them find a professional place to work using Liquidspace. Liquidspace is a listing of coworking spaces or desks for rent on a short term or daily basis.
With our culture moving from being Me to We and from Owning to Sharing, as well as advances in technology, the reality is that mobile-first offices are going to come about regardless of whether or not we want them now. Employees will want to be on the move, they will want to share resources, and they will want to experience work with others. The questions it, will you be ready?
Resources for going Mobile-first
- Does Every Employee Need a Desk?
- How to set up an effective mobile officeo
- Thinking through hotdesking in an office
- [INFOGRAPHIC] The Mobile Worker
- Research: When Work Happens Anywhere