Physical Location, Technology, and Knowledge Sharing

 Spaces supporting focused collaboration are important for encouraging knowledge sharing between employees. Image by Jim McGuire.
Spaces supporting focused collaboration are important for encouraging knowledge sharing between employees. Image by Jim McGuire.

Employers continue to be concerned with how to utilize corporate culture and physical workspace to attract the skills and talents needed for their organization’s future.  While compensation and benefits are crucial elements that affect recruitment and retention, there are also three key aspects of an organization that cannot be overlooked in this process: physical location, technology and knowledge sharing. To attract the talent a company desires, employers must offer the correct mix of an attractive location, supply modern technological tools and provide employees with opportunities to develop meaningful connections with co-workers. Increasingly, organizations are examining how to best make use of this mix in their workspaces, using the physical workplace as an integral tool to help recruit and retain the best talent and create spaces that will appeal to the multiple generations in today’s workforce.

Location, Location, Location

The habits of the Millennial generation continue to drive workplace decisions. Born after 1980, this generation is highly mobile and possesses a strong sense of community. For many, the assumption has been Millennials are attracted to living in urban areas, but a recent Forbes article challenges this notion: The first group of millennials are now entering their 30s, and it turns out that they are beginning, like preceding generations, to move to the suburbs.” Consequently, many organizations have begun to rethink CRE strategies, looking for diverse spaces to attract these young workers. It’s important to understand life stage continues to drive both home and work decisions for Millenials, so companies must provide an array of workspace options to meet their needs as their life stage changes.

Choosing an attractive location is critical for recruitment and retention. KeyBank’s facility on Tiedeman Road in Cleveland, Ohio, is centrally located, providing an easy commute for those on both the East and West sides of town. It’s also close to the airport to simplify business travel and surrounded by amenities like restaurants and shopping centers. Photo by Jim McGuire.
Choosing an attractive location is critical for recruitment and retention. KeyBank’s facility on Tiedeman Road in Cleveland, Ohio, is centrally located, providing an easy commute for those on both the East and West sides of town. It’s also close to the airport to simplify business travel and surrounded by amenities like restaurants and shopping centers. Image by Jim McGuire.
Leveraging the technological transformation of work

The expansion of advanced technological tools has dictated both the way people work and where they choose to work. The style of the workforce as well as when and how they communicate has permanently changed as a result of today’s technologies.

This enables work processes to be unchained from physical spaces. Integrated technologies, such as inexpensive cloud-based services, will allow companies to decrease their out-of-pocket costs and also provide streamlined access to corporate resources. Such technological advancements will enable companies to reduce overall costs and physical real estate requirements, as workers will truly be empowered to work from anywhere, introducing a new era focused on decentralized office spaces. Satellite workspaces outside the office or home will be increasingly common in suburban areas, shortening commutes while still providing access to the tools employees need to thrive.

Offering the right workspace today is critical to attracting and retaining talent, as the new Knowledge Worker does not require a specific location. Today’s workforce demands a mobile environment to fulfill their functions in a space that supports their need for flexibility.

Technology makes this mobile environment possible, as it enables workers to work from anywhere, anytime. According to Megan Fleming, Director of Workplace Strategy at Vocon, “Empowering employees with the tools they need to work remotely, such as laptops, smartphones and remote access tools, is critical for fulfilling employee needs and ensuring optimal productivity.”

Though many employees desire the flexibility to work on-the-go, they also wish to feel engaged with their organization.  Maintaining this sense of connection is important to ensure workers align with a corporation’s culture and brand. To enhance morale and teamwork, it’s important to leverage opportunities to foster social networks in the office, such as creating spaces for mingling, while ensuring mobile workers have a space to work near their co-workers when they are on-site.

New technologies have impacted both the way people work and where they choose to work. Here, technology allows employees at Vocon to come together for an impromptu meeting. Photo by Jim McGuire.
New technologies have impacted both the way people work and where they choose to work. Here, technology allows employees at Vocon to come together for an impromptu meeting. Image by Jim McGuire.
Balancing the Need for Collaborative and Individual Work

To promote knowledge-sharing between employees, but also accommodate varying work styles, the functionality of the work place must embrace and respect the need for collaborative spaces as well as private spaces for individual work. “Creating an environment that fosters ‘casual collisions’ nurtures informal collaborations between workers while providing opportunities for spontaneous social encounters,” says Debbie Donley, principal at Vocon.  It also enables teams to form and disband quickly in response to project requirements.  Such flexibility allows seamless transitions from one assignment to the next and is accomplished by providing a variety of spaces and adaptable furniture configurations enhanced with technology tools to support instant engagement.

However, the need for private focus spaces for individual work must not be overlooked.  Focus spaces remain a key component of high-performance workplaces, as solitude and seclusion are necessary for the execution of tasks requiring concentration and minimal distraction.  Such spaces, like private offices or conference rooms, optimize work output and productivity.

Through an artfully executed workplace strategy organizations can successfully utilize their physical workspace to help attract and retain the talent they need for future success and growth. By choosing the right location, providing modern technology and promoting knowledge-sharing, organizations can form a high-performance workplace, one that drives value, accommodates employees’ varying work styles and supports both the financial and personal needs of an organization.

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