Designing for the Increasingly Complex Organization: Part I

As we enter another new year, there are many changes impacting the business landscape. Change creates both challenges and opportunities. As interior designers, we must respond to our clients’ current organizational needs. But we also should take note of some amazing transformations that are changing the very essence of how our clients’ businesses are organized. This, and my next few blog entries, will explore the transformations we see occurring in the workplace and raise related questions we should be asking of ourselves and our clients. To begin this exploration, I’ll start with perhaps the most tangible factor and one we have continued to experience for some time: the use of new and rapidly changing technology in the workplace. Today’s technology enables people to work anywhere, particularly if they’re in the information business. When you walk into many business offices, you’ll see a lot of empty desks; the people are somewhere else. This phenomenon is due to a variety of changes in the environment in which businesses operate, particularly in the use of communications technology. We have witnessed the workers in yesteryear’s “workplace” morph into “Networked Persons”, a species that can now be observed almost anywhere: in airports, student lounges, and restaurants. The “Networked Person” is always on the move, juggling a laptop computer, a mobile smart phone for e-mails and keeping in electronic touch with each other on a 24/7 basis. Anyone who has a “Networked Teenager” at home knows this phenomenon is not limited to the workplace! Some of these workers no longer have a physical office in a building provided by their employer. Others have one they don’t use or need. This begs the question, since office space is increasingly expensive, doesn’t it seem crazy to allocate a private space to every individual? Yet, for designers, the answer to this question is no mere financial calculation. We must also attend to issues like maintaining a sense of community in the organization and a sense of belonging in the worker. How shall we accomplish that? Your ideas and comments are welcome and appreciated! Submitted by: Jill Mendoza

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