by Jim Ware
Here’s some new evidence about how cube farms destroy creativity and collaboration – or at least don’t encourage or enable productive work.
Harvard Business Review online has just published a provocative short piece by Laura Sherbin and Karen Sumberg called “Bulldoze Your Cubicles for Better Collaboration.”
The idea really isn’t new, and the data isn’t that surprising, but it’s nice to see the recognition growing that cubicles don’t work – or produce good work by their “inhabitants.”
Here’s one brief excerpt:
Companies are finally realizing what their employees have known for ages: Cubicle cultures just don’t work. With concerns about knowledge-sharing among older and younger generations of employees skyrocketing, organizations are concluding that impersonal “cube farms” discourage collaboration, stifle employee engagement and, as a result, strangle innovation at the exact time when it’s desperately needed.
Perhaps the most important idea in the article, however, is something I’ve long believed: Baby Boomer and Millennials/Gen Y have more in common than most people think–especially when it comes to how they view the workplace:
“Bookend Generations,” a study of how Baby Boomers and Generation Y view work, found that both Boomers and Gen Ys prize interacting with high-quality colleagues—so much so that both generations rank it equal to or higher than financial compensation. Far from glaring at each other across the generation gap, 58% of Boomers say they enjoy helping Gen Ys navigate the workplace and the same number of Ys report that they look to Boomers for professional advice more than any other generation.
The Bookend Generations report is available (for a fee) from the Center for Work-Life Policy.
by Jim Ware
Just found a good article in The Futurist about the future of the job market. In the current economy we’re all concerned about creating enough jobs to get back to something resembling full employment. But given the demographics of the work force, employers who think long term may have a very different challenge ahead of them.
This isn’t new news, but it serves as important reminder of how critical demographics is to thinking about the future.
This comment is from an article by Patrick Tucker in Examiner.com:
The newest issue of THE FUTURIST magazine features writing from career and labor experts John Challenger and Edward Gordon. The picture they paint of the future of work may prove surprising for a number of readers. For instance, despite the presence of millions of people out of work, a shortage of skilled labor could have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy in the decade ahead, according to Gordon.
The full article in The Futurist is available only to paid subscribers, but it can be downloaded as a pdf file for a one-time fee of $3.00. The essential message is simple: as the Boomers retire, there is likely to be a huge shortage of talent in the United States (and no doubt in other countries as well).
As an employer, you should start doing something about it now, while the current slowdown gives you a bit of a break. As an individual, do some soul-searching about what kind of job you want to be in five to ten years from now, and get started on the research and training you’ll need to have.
by Jim Ware
Please join me and my partner in crime Charlie Grantham, along with Eric Bensley of Citrix Online, and James Hilliard of BNet next Wednesday, June 24, for a free one-hour webinar called “Keeping Your Team Connected in a Distributed Workplace.”
The webinar is sponsored by Citrix Online We’re very grateful for their continuing support of our research and ideas.
Again, the webinar will be on June 24, at 11 AM Pacific/2 PM Eastern. Register here.
We hope you’ll join us. We’re going to be talking mostly about the leadership and interpersonal principles for keeping members of a distributed team connected with each other, their tasks, and the company.
by Jim Ware
Yesterday was a national holiday in the United States: Memorial Day. We were all reminded of, and thinking of, our military veterans and active-duty soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines (and all the others serving our country). We have to be incredibly grateful for their service.
I have always taken some comfort in knowing that technology enabled distant warriors to stay much closer to their loved ones than ever before. The combination of email, instant messaging, web cams, and all those social networking sites just had to be bridging the gaps and shortening those miles of separation. After all, overseas military service is the ultimate form of “distributed work.”
Well, it turns out it’s not that simple. There was a very poignant and candid first-person account in Monday’s New York Times of what it’s really like to try to maintain a marriage and a family with one spouse in harm’s way half way around the world (“One Husband, Two Kids, Three Deployments,” by Melissa Seligman).
Turns out that real-time video communication may not be the best way to maintain a distant relationship; Ms. Seligman and her military husband have come to rely on old-fashioned letters (snail mail!) to stay in meaningful touch with each other.
Please read the op-ed column; it’s a powerful statement about the stresses we put military families through. And it’s also a thought-provoking insight into the very real inadequacies of web-cams and real-time global communication.
What’s your reaction? Are we overenthusiastic about how technology “connects” us? How should we be assessing when and how to use which collaborative technologies?
by Jim Ware
I’d like to encourage anyone interested in the future of work to consider attending the Worktech(tm)09 Conference in New York City on May 20. It’s being held at the Time and Life Building at 1271 Avenue of the Americas.
Our across-the-pond colleague and fellow futurist/author Phillip Ross, CEO of Cordless Group in the U.K., is behind Worktech, which has been held annually for the last several years. He’s an expert on the impact of new technologies on work and the workplace – and a very dynamic speaker.
Dan Johnson, head of global CRE Workplace planning for Accenture, and a member of our Workplace Innovation and Performance Network, will also be a speaker. He’ll be describing Accenture’s new workplace strategy and highlighting a case study from Accenture’s Tokyo operations.
There’s lots more in both speakers and networking opportunities.
You can register for the conference here, and download a pdf brochure about the agenda and speakers here.
Unfortunately New York is too far away from the west coast for me to get there, but I’d love to hear about the program from any of you who do attend. It looks like a terrific contemporary review of what’s happening in the workplace (and beyond) right now.
by Jim Ware
<this is a cross-post from the Future of Work blog>
On April 2 Charlie Grantham, Diane Coles, and I delivered a presentation at the IFMA Industries Forum held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Our major focus was on the economics of distributed work. We spoke first about the fundamental changes going on in the economy (familiar to anyone who visits here often, or is alive and breathing these days).
(The full presentation is posted online within this post; you can view it below the fold.)
by Jim Ware
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The answer: good things.
I’m just back from a conference in Vancouver, BC, where Jon Husband just happens to live. I was smart/lucky enough to have announced publicly that Charlie Grantham and I would be in Vancouver for a few days, and Jon was gracious enough to get in touch and suggest we meet (since we never had).
The three of us ended up having breakfast together last Friday, and then Jon was the perfect host, offering us a ride out the airport for our trips home.
Of course, Jon being the champion of Vancouver that he is, the ride took a little extra time (which we had plenty of) as he gave us a mini-tour of the downtown and surrounding area.
I had been in Vancouver before, but not for over 20 years, so it was an eye-opening tour. I’ve always had good feelings about the city (stemming from a wonderful summer in the mid-80′s characterized by many late evening dinners down near the harbor).
But even more important than enjoying Vancouver was enjoying getting to know Jon. We (including Charlie) discovered way more in common than any three older gray-haired guys who had never met before have any right to expect. As Jon described on his own blog last week (“Back to the Future . . . of Work“), we share many intellectual curiosities and probably even more views and values about organization, work, people, and even politics.
So here’s to the value of face to face meetings. In spite of our mutual fascination with what Jon calls “wirearchy,” we also agree wholeheartedly in getting together physically to share a real space, not just a virtual one.
Of course, that f2f meeting never would have taken place without the AppGap blog and our e-newsletter (where I’d announced the Vancouver trip in the first place), so I guess we owe some thanks to Hylton Joliffe and the folks at Intuit too for originally making Jon and me aware of each other.
But the nice part of now having “pressed the flesh” is that I’ll have a whole lot more context from now on as I read Jon’s blog comments. And I suspect we’ll see each other again in the not-too-distant future.
Thanks, Jon, for your hospitality and for your always-stimulating questions about the future of work and of management.