“Will This Open Space Work?” 1999 is not that long ago (well not for me!) therefore it was of interest to find this HBR case study by Jacqueline Vischer. The basis of the study was “The CEO wants to increase collaboration and cut costs with an open-plan work space, but knowledge workers say they need their walls, their doors and their privacy.” Five commentators were asked their views on this approach and in part the responses ranged from “the nature of a person’s work should dictate decisions about space”, “you may succeed in business despite your space, but you seldom succeed because of it” “Everyone, including me (the CEO of Alcoa) now has 81 square feet of personal work space; the entire building is our office.” and “there are at least ten arguments against rushing into the fad of high density, open plan offices” . Clearly the impact of the workplace environment on employees’ effectiveness was just as contentious then as it is now, and now technology and people’s expectations have much more impact than 16 years ago.
I recently attended the NPAWorldwide Regional Recruitment Conference in Melbourne where Brett Iredale Founder and CEO of the software supplier JobAdder delivered a presentation which outlined the company’s strategy of “culture development”. Brett believes this underpins the success and rapid growth of JobAdder by allowing people to be productive, motivated and engaged. The two elements of this strategy that resonated with me were the workplace and the people.
The workplace in all JobAdder locations is open – no printers, no paper, no phone handsets, live dash boards are visible to everyone, lots of company/financial information sharing and no meeting rooms. Meetings take place with the team standing around a tall table (no chairs). Key people work full time from as remotely as a beach in Indonesia to Denver USA. Every one is linked. The people are an integral part of the company, and the JobAdder team have a very clear picture of the type of person they want to recruit, to work with. This embraces body language, how they speak, their attitude, manner and diversity. Brett can readily describe the culture that works for them. He and his employees are highly disciplined in assessing candidates against their company culture.
In recruitment we all talk about “culture fit”. How may of us are able to summarise what in practical terms “culture fit” is and then identify/select employees who can thrive within it? What do we do in our organisations to ensure that the work environment supports culture?
Click here to view the article from 1999 that this article references.
Blog Posted by Garry King, Director – June 2015