Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of the PR firm Ruder Finn, is tired of people misusing the term Workplace of the Future. In a recent op-ed in Fortune magazine, she describes how people are fixated on simplistic things like pleasant perks for employees and miss the truly transformative power of the concept:
“While healthy snacks and open, collaborative spaces are certainly trendy, and in many cases productive, re-thinking the traditional corner-office style of management means more. The new way of working is not just about bringing down the walls—it’s about bringing down the old-school style of hierarchical, top-down management. As we reconfigure the space within the four walls we work in, to truly change the traditional workplace model, we need to equally reconfigure the way we think about letting all team members be heard.”
This is very different from the environment in which many CEOs worked and honed their leadership skills. Leadership used to be about command and control. Employees looked to their leaders for direction, leaders told them what to do, and employees went back to their cubicles and did it. When you rise through the ranks in organizations operating within that mindset it can be difficult for leaders to change theirs once they are at the top. Not only is it a new way of thinking, but you had no role models to show you how.
And yet, that’s exactly what you must do. For most companies, and certainly all involved in knowledge work, top-down leadership and those famed corner offices is a fast-track to failure. Companies today routinely operate on a global scale. Teams are widely dispersed. Technology allows us to break the limiting structure of the traditional 9-to-5 work day, and the limits of the walls of the company’s offices while still keeping the workforce connected and everyone’s contributions visible. That’s what the Workplace of the Future represents, more than healthier snacks in the cafeteria or free staff massages.
Bloomgarden describes first-hand how the Workplace of the Future is an equal opportunity culture into which all can contribute:
“The future of work isn’t just about what’s in the space; it’s about how we engage with our colleagues in new ways, including how we engage with those at different levels than us. As CEO, you might think I work mostly with senior staff, but I work just as much with junior employees, and I feel lucky to have these unique insights and skill sets. As every aspect of our world evolves rapidly with digitization and more personalized experiences, voices at every level need to be heard.”
So now that we’ve called into question what you thought the Workplace of the Future actually means, where do you go from here? Insights from analysts are helpful, but often pre-packaged and only partially applicable to your business. Peer perspectives are invaluable, but tough to get scheduled.
On September 21st, Polycom is holding an Executive Roundtable at each of its four U.S. Executive Experience Centers – in New York, Austin, San Jose and Herndon, VA. Jim Lundy, Founder and CEO of analyst firm Aragon Research, will be on hand to answer questions about the future of work and how to best implement next-generation IT that can facilitate collaboration and improve employee performance. And perhaps most beneficial, there will be plenty of time for networking with fellow executives.
It’s a unique opportunity to truly create a roadmap for the Workplace of the Future in your business. – although snacks will also be provided. Click here for more information about the event, and take advantage of direct access to a market expert and peers with perspectives and experiences that can help your organizations thrive.