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  • Writer's pictureKrishna Money

Workplace Innovation at Platform (we can’t claim the ‘Office on Wheels’)

Platform have been delivering ground breaking Customer Experience Centres since 2008, so one of our goals when designing our new office was to create a space where we could run workshops with key clients, partners and thought leaders. We call this space Co:Lab©.

Its main purpose is to help our customers examine strategic business challenges, enable them to identify solutions and road map how they might be realised. Since moving in earlier this year, use of Co:Lab© has grown exponentially, some of our clients even using it as an offsite facility to run their own events.

Much of the work done has centred around innovation in sales, customer service and the digital landscape that organisations will need to occupy in the future.

More recently, we have been looking at how Co:Lab© can help our customers in Workplace Innovation and our research has raised some fascinating questions, not just about work place design, but about the future of work itself. These are crucial for the structured five step process we employ to help clients, particularly at the ‘disruption’ stage, which creates a vision of the world in 10 years’ time that could have a fundamental impact on their business. For example:

*Reduction in human labour as a driver of economic growth. In 1964, the United States’ most valuable company, AT&T, was worth $267 billion in today’s dollars and employed 758,611 people. Today, Google, is worth $370 billion but has only about 55,000 employees.

*Technology creates jobs. Some, but the creative half of creative destruction is easily overstated. Nine out of 10 workers today are in occupations that existed 100 years ago, and just 5 percent of the jobs generated between 1993 and 2013 came from “high tech” sectors like computing, software, and telecommunications. Our newest industries tend to be the most labour-efficient: they just don’t require many people.

*Who will be the consumers? In the 1950s, Henry Ford II, the CEO of Ford, and Walter Reuther, the head of the United Auto Workers union, were touring a new engine plant in Cleveland. Ford gestured to a fleet of machines and said, “Walter, how are you going to get these robots to pay union dues?” The union boss famously replied: “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”

*Extracts taken and abridged from Derek Thompson’s “A World Without Work.”

These disruptors highlight a few considerations for the future world of work and the possible implications at a macro economic and social level. However, there are ways in which forward thinking organisations can develop their workplaces to embrace a fast changing future.

We could create spaces that are a place between work and home, somewhere where staff can find fulfilment not associated with earning a wage, engaging in projects with non-profit organisations or expressing creative or personal interests.

Possibly work will be shared more, not just within organisations but with customers, partners and even competitors. Areas could be set aside for collaboration and connection on a much greater scale than within the confines of a single business’ growth strategy. It is likely that where people work and the link between time put in and pay may become even more fluid than it is now.

In the nearer term, fixed locations might gradually shift to being used for specific activities, collaboration and more creative group or social functions. Or just as a hub where a company’s identity and ethos can be reinforced to staff, customers and the outside world.

Any changes should be driven by sound research and planning, as well as thorough engagement with employees. Innovation is likely to be essential, not just for growth, but for survival.


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