The New Meaning of the Word “Office”

Today’s workplace isn’t about the physical office space—it’s about the people within it. The word “office” certainly includes the brick-and-mortar building that houses your company, but it expands to the unlimited digital world and technology that constantly connects the workforce. It’s time to upgrade your office to fit today’s definitions.

Workers don’t perform at their best when they’re confined, but the traditional office forces the worker to adapt to a fairly rigid infrastructure that doesn’t foster creativity or collaboration. Every worker is connected to nearly every other worker in the organization in some way, so collaboration needs to be a top priority. This may mean rethinking your collaborative spaces. Just like the word “office,” the word “conference room” means something different than it used to. Sure, some are still called meeting rooms or conference rooms, but you may also hear names like “huddle rooms,” “enclaves,” and “collaboration spaces.” These names reflect the new nature of meetings—they’re not a place where assignments are handed out, but where workers brainstorm and draw upon one another’s strengths, coming up with both ideas and solutions to problems.

And this constant collaboration and interaction shouldn’t have to end when an employee leaves your building. Today’s office doesn’t stay put; it travels where the worker goes. Whether they’re in a corporate mega-campus on acres of rolling hills, the 37th floor of a downtown high-rise, in a hotel room or a customer’s office, on a plane, at Starbucks, or even on their sofa at home, they will likely spend more time working than not, and it’s your job to make accessing everything they’ll need to do so as easy as possible.

Workers should be able to easily share and access everything they’re working on 24/7—whether or not they are physically in the office. Every document should be placed immediately in the cloud—not in a hidden cabinet in a back office.

CEOs, CFOs and facilities managers can promote worker mobility by investing in the latest technology. They can also proactively prepare for the changing workspace by becoming more innovative with their facilities, work-from-home policies, real estate costs and more. These changes will ultimately increase productivity and reduce the cost of hosting workers, which will lead to a better work/life balance.

Americans spend more time at work than anyone else in the world—an average of 46 hours per week, which adds up to 378 more hours per year than the average German worker. And we’re not finished when we leave the office. One recent survey found that the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours. They may not be in the office, but it’s important for both productivity and employee sanity that the office is able to come to them.

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