Not long ago, I closed a breakout for managers by thanking the group for taking time away from their offices to attend. One Gen Xer laughed and raised his IPhone. “No problem,” he said. “This is my office.” His comment reminded me of how radically the ways we work have changed.
Traditionally, productivity was characterized by long hours of solitary, seated activity with an occasional break to confer with colleagues. Bred to the captivity of quiet cubicles, we still sometimes expect creativity to be a silent, solo act. That is not the reality of most workplaces. Most of use spend only 38% of our time at our desks.
On successful teams, people collaborate throughout the day. Laptops are carried from place to place. Information is passed along in brief exchanges. Work gets done on the move.
There's even evidence that when everybody stands during a meeting they are more engaged and more collaborative. Seated people are more territorial. Tweet This
This can help you address generational conflict. Mixing up the workspace disrupts old, territorial patterns of movement. They say "sitting is the new smoking" for lots of reasons. One of them is entrenched behavior and ways of thinking. Things look different if you're on your feet.
Is your group is made up of multiple generations? Do things slow down a bit for you during the summer? If so, pull the group together to try diagramming the ways the group works together. How might the spaces you use be configured to reflect the way you work? Can you create more collaborative spaces where people naturally gather? How many dedicated offices and quiet areas do you really need?
I’m not suggesting that you leap wildly into an entirely open-office plan. Many individuals and many jobs require lots of quiet time and privacy. That said, it might be interesting to see what happens with more hubs and fewer cubes.
The corner office was traditionally the Boomer dream. But it might not be the kind of space where any of us gets the most work done now.
Generations expert, author and keynote speaker Amy Lynch works with companies that want to Harness the Power of Generational Intelligence.