You can read about Antonia, a fictional character, in the third article, titled ‘A Story of Reimagining the Workplace – Part 1′‘ in the Trimble Real Estate series of articles on the phases of the role of workplaces in the new environment of the CV-19 era.
Maybe Antonia should meet Kat and Chet, the Wall Street Journal’s actors in their return to the office stories. The fictional Antonia tale is from a real estate and facility management perspective with some new views on the purpose of an urban office today and the increased necessity of implementing new technologies. The new Col-LABS described in the article are repurposed conference places where some employees can come together to hopefully do their most productive, creative, collaborative work on a scheduled basis in a healthy building. As the architect Clive Wilkinson has described the workplace as theatre:
“For many, large innovative organizations today, the workplace has become a kind of theatre. The action of work becomes a play. Where human activity is freed from excessive management and control, work can become serious play and the associated activity becomes a state of flow. This state of consciousness called flow is an optimum desirable condition to be strived for in creative communities inspiring and connecting people and processes in an efficiency of movement and productivity.”
One can never question Clive’s understanding of ‘flow’ if you ever saw his design of a conference table as a beautifully curving surfboard for an imaginative workplace which becomes a theatre located just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean in Venice, CA years ago.
Then there are two recent stories from the Wall Street Journal which involve two other fictional employees, Kat and Chet, who are being monitored by the ‘big brother’ like management of their company. Information on their health, time spent in social distancing, as well as where one goes, what he does and whom he meets is being collected on these individuals. Remote working during the time of this virus, has inspired a myriad of news articles lately. One NYT journalist, wrote in early May of this year the reasons why this type of software is gaining popularity:
“With millions of us working from home in the coronavirus pandemic, companies are hunting for ways to ensure that we are doing what we are supposed to. Demand has surged for software that can monitor employees, with programs tracking the words we type, snapping pictures with our computer cameras and giving our managers rankings of who is spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time on Excel.”
The article goes on to describe how Adam, the reporter, downloaded Hubstaff to his computer to monitor his own work and movements over a 3 week period. By the end of his trial period, he found himself trying to cheat the software so it wouldn’t know that he was getting coffee and spending time with his kids. One is led to think that this type of monitoring does not exactly inspire either trust or ‘flow’ of creativity and innovation. Perhaps we need a new play where Antonia teaches Kat and Chet’s management some fresh ideas about privacy concerns, work and the evolving theatre of the workplace. More on this in the final article of this Real Estate ‘Return-To-Office’ series.
If you have an immediate need to address the unique workplace planning and management challenges created by Covid-19, please contact the Trimble ManhattanONE team for a demo or more information.
Nancy Sanquist, Resident Writer
Nancy Sanquist is an IFMA Fellow, an AIA Associate, and is currently Chair of the IFMA Foundation Board of Trustees. Nancy has been in the real estate and facility management technology business for three decades; she has spoken at industry conferences all over the world. She is a well-known author and editor, including two IFMA Foundation books, Work on the Move (2014) and Work on the Move (2) (2016). Nancy formerly worked as an academic professor in art and architecture (UCLA; Lafayette and Muhlenberg Colleges), as a historic preservation urban planner (Easton, Pennsylvania), and as an urban revitalization consultant (Hollywood Revitalization, Los Angeles).
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