In countless iterations over the past decade, I’ve spoken to colleagues and clients about what I’ve labeled “the death of the desk.”
My meaning is that we’ve become so mobile, in general, and our work is so collaborative or communicative and requiring working in multiple settings, specifically, that the traditional assigned workstation and conventional furniture “lexicon” has become irrelevant, if not an impediment, to the way we are working now.
I have been met with many friendly, and not, objections. Some have been very philosophical, about working postures and the need for an intervening, impersonal, device between people communicating in the workplace. Others have been practical, arguing about surfaces to support reference materials and equipment, although these have quickly diminished as iPads and “retina” displays surpass the effectiveness of desktops (what?), monitors, and IT departments for many work tasks. Yet others argue about one of the least valuable characteristics of work, position, and the fixtures and furniture that supposedly tell people who’s the boss.
In the meantime, there are organizations who have made a move in exemplary new directions and whose performance momentum, mostly built on the creativity and innovation bred through interaction, is rapidly outstripping their competitors.
This is just one example, but a delightful one. Consider the words of GlaxoSmithKline’s leader of workplace strategy –
“It’s about creating environments so people can do their best work, and we’ve seen a 45% increase in the speed of decision making. But our biggest surprise is that within two weeks most folks say they wouldn’t go back to cellular space.”