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July 11 2013

Attention, HR: Here’s the Problem With Your Office Environment

By David McMillin, Staff Writer



More employees are embracing the ability to do their work via tablets, laptops, smartphones and video conferences, but it’s not because they don’t like human interaction in an office space.

“We were given technology that allowed us to work from home, but we don’t want to work from home,” Mike Walsh, bestselling author of Futuretainment and CEO of global innovation lab Tomorrow, told attendees at the PCMA Education Conference in Denver.

SEE ALSO: Mike Walsh on The Next Generation of Meeting Attendees

Walsh believes that people still want to work in crowded, loud places, and I think he makes a valid point. As I write this article, I’m next to eight other remote employees at a coffee shop on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. I’ve been working outside of a traditional office space for five years now, and the number one element I look for in job opportunities is the ability to write from anywhere. It’s not because of the you-can-work-in-your-pajamas mentality, either. I wake up early each morning, and I typically arrive at my “office” by 9 AM. My surrounding cast of like-minded remote workers highlight the fact that people don’t want to lounge on the couch while staring at their computers. Instead, they want to be in social spaces that drive collaboration and creativity.

Unfortunately, most offices aren’t providing the kind of environment that inspires employees. Walsh said that the majority of offices are comprised of 70 percent desks and 30 percent common spaces. Translation: there aren’t enough opportunities for employees to come together outside their cubes.

SEE ALSO: The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Think about the typical office setting. Think about how much time employees spend in that setting. Kind of depressing, right? If you’re looking for some ideas to end that depression and transform your own office, look no further than Google. The search giant, well-known as one of the best places to work, features everything from bean bag chairs to an organic garden to a beach volleyball court at its headquarters.

If you’re serious about hiring the right people and keeping them inspired enough to stick around on your team for the long haul, now is the time to consider how you might redesign your office.

“Companies will no longer compete on how big their offices are or how big their revenues are,” Walsh predicted. “They’ll compete on how their people work together.”

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