01/21/2013 - 15:25

Mobility, cloud services, paperless office…. all these concepts, and many others have been the key issues among the future insight experts for years.
Massive changes in working life has been predicted, but nothing really has happened, until the past 2 years.
Most trends and phenomena follow a similar pattern; first appears the weak signals which usually create a lot of hype and expectations, but in most cases the first hype dilutes after a while, because nothing really happens. Why is it like this?

Most trends follow the so called “Turtle silhouette” curve, where the first hype is drawn as the head and the shield is describing the real significant change. If we think for example WAP services during the 90’s  as a merging phenom-enon; Nokia was the dominant smart phone company of that era with a huge future potential. Nokia’s stock value reached its all-time high as the investors expected the company to take the pole position in the booming smart phone markets. The problem why the WAP boom never really picked up was in the technological and content environment; the cellular network was slow and primitive, the content in the very few portals that existed was very limited and the devices were slow and display quality was poor. This is typical for most trends; the technology has to be mature enough and there has to be enough benefits and content for the user to create a positive customer experience, otherwise it will not grow. Apple with its iPad’s hit the sweet spot when they were launched; the WiFi offers a fast and easy-to-access connection almost everywhere, the Web is full of good scalable content and the devices provide excellent user experience with high resolution color displays and long battery life. Nokia’s net browser that was launched 2002, was far too early.

In working environment the development in the technology has also enabled the change. The free WiFI connection is today in café’s, restaurants, shopping malls, airports etc, and at home.
For a fast and secure network connection people do not have to go to the office anymore. 4G network will even speed up this development, as the fast wireless connections is everywhere.
The cloud scenario is also becoming fast reality, as all files, mails, videos and documents are extremely easy to access. With the broadband TV’s movies and TV programs are in the cloud, and can be extracted easily and fast.

For companies this means that the mobile work among their employees has increased very fast. Companies are moving to smaller facilities and the traditional office needs a new typography. The most popular concept for the modern working environment is called the “Activity Based Office”. The idea there is that the working environment is not anymore following the organizational chart for the lay-out, but it is rather based on the needs of the users. These needs has to be studied first carefully, and the lay-out in the new ABO should support the needs of the users for creating an inspiring and efficient working environment. In most cases it means that there are shared desk areas, quiet areas, inspirational areas, communication and group work area, to name a few.
And in most cases the whole building is designed as a working space. The management culture is also facing significant changes. Traditionally the managers would like to see their subordinates, and ensure that they are present and working hard in the office. In the New Way Of Working people are managed through systematic and regular task setting, the place and the means are more up to the employees.

The concept of “office” is also changing fast as people work more and more outside the traditional working space. We have tried this new concept in Martelahouse now for a couple months, and the feedback has been very encouraging. We also managed to activate people, which is a major health issue, reduced the square meters per employee and still created a more inspiring working environment. The concept demands a constant follow up system, and the layup has to be adjusted if there seems to be some challenges. Personally I have to admit that it has been a very interesting journey from a traditional office, into the NWOW.

The Swedes seems to be always a couple of steps ahead of the Finns, and in our Business Unit Sweden the hype is around the new concept; A2. The core of that is the personalization of the generic workstations. This is also done through new technological innovations. We are presenting something around this concept in the Stockholm Fair, in the beginning the February. I will come back to this after the fair in the coming blog’s.

All the best for the spring and I hope you are open for the New Way Of Working, it will redefine our life / work balance during the coming years!

Petteri Kolinen,
Design Director, Martela Group

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