A business ecosystem is defined to be a network of organizations – including suppliers, distributors, customers, even competitors – that are involved in the co-creation of the goods or services a business provides. What kind of workplaces do business ecosystems need?
Companies can no longer expect to have all talent they need internally. Subcontractors have been used in projects for a long time already but more and more external service providers are used for daily business as well. Crowd sourcing is used in offering development, freelance writers are used for content creation and consultants are used for measuring and analyzing customer experience, to name a few. Business ecosystems evolve.
At the same time our workplaces have become platforms for ecosystem collaboration. And a company’s success is often based on providing a platform for the ecosystem to meet on and to co-create value for the company. So what is an ideal platform for this type of ecosystems?
It certainly requires a completely new kind of thinking for workplace design. It is not reasonable to think that optimal co-creation could always be supported with the same type of workplace. Therefore, workplaces must be flexible and easily transformed for different kinds of set-ups.
The virtual aspect of workplaces is an important factor to take into account. How to involve people who are physically elsewhere in the co-creation process?
Ease of use should also be highlighted. People from different backgrounds should have the workplace supporting their work even if they are not familiar working in it from before. Ideally, the workplace should feel for all its users like it was designed for them personally. How on earth could this be possible?
This is where the sheep get separated from the goats in workplace design. Today’s designers must be able to apply participatory design methods across the business ecosystem. This is challenging for sure, but not impossible.
Today’s designers have a completely new set of tools when they start their design process. They use user profiles for these so called hybrid workers. They investigate the workers’ activities and their need for privacy. They understand that we are all individuals and we may concentrate or collaborate in different ways.
I find the ecosystem workplaces as a very exciting opportunity for us all. And I certainly look forward to working in them more and more.
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