By Workspace



I just read a blog that discussed the importance of encouragement. Employers should encourage renewal among their staff. You agree, in principle. However… It’s also true that if you do something that excites you, it radically changes the meaning and nature of encouragement. I’m talking about change management. It’s a sure sign that you have missed something along the way. We’re in a situation in which jobs and businesses are divided into different sides. It’s a case of Kodak versus Slush. One side is all for “change management” while the other has to keep people in check in order to prevent mental burnout. We are living in two parallel realities. And this is not only the case in Finland, it is the same in the US and EU, among other places. It is the fast and flexible versus the rigid and slow. For some, change is a hassle, while others relish it. Which side do you want to join?

Greetings from London WORKTECH 2016 forum on working environments. I returned from the forum with three major observations. Firstly, the event was all about CONFIDENCE and a CAN-DO ATTITUDE. In the UK, the general atmosphere and attitude towards working has traditionally been something completely different from Finland. They tend to be proud of their business, in a good way. They have a captivating way of talking about new ideas. Sales speeches are a pleasant, natural part of making an impact. Many of the services on display were not particularly special compared to our Go Finland services. But their DRIVE! They even sent me messages afterwards. Huh? I wonder if I should reply?

My second observation: THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT IS A STRATEGIC RESOURCE FOR RECRUITING AND PROMOTING COMMITMENT. Competition for the best skills is tougher than ever. Employers are prepared (i.e. forced) to offer a full range of goodies in terms of the working environment. Even personalisation is no longer frowned upon. And even large organisations are seeking ideas for tailored, individual working environments. The palette includes solutions for operating methods, premises and digital environments. The old-fashioned IT department has been forced to transform itself into an agile and proactive producer of hybrid services. Health and welfare play an ever-Increasing role in workplaces. The working environment is consumed as a service!

And here is my third observation. There has been so much hype about it, DIGITALISATION. Everything will be destroyed. We are building everything new to replace it. Digital disruption is about to strike everywhere! Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are moving rapidly from science fiction to everyday life. Smart real estate? Smart cities? Homes? Vehicles? Industrial production? Health care? Digital glue connects different industries into pull-based services, where different platforms and application developers compete for popularity among consumers. Who will build the first Tesla house? (Musk, maybe). For us in the promised land of engineers, this is the thousand crypto-currency opportunity. As long as we remember to focus on the user-consumer, to steer away from the path of Nokia.

From the perspective of working and living environments, the digital economy opens up whole new opportunities for a flexible and more meaningful utilisation of resources to cater for different life situations and interests. Work-life balance goes work-life blend. Or maybe we should put life first! The concept of multi-location work will become extinct, as will the phone. A genuine opportunity for mobility and place-independent interaction will alter our perception of work. Artificial intelligence will do it, too. We will be competing with it on many platforms before we find our new place as humans. IBM Watson is already providing better diagnoses than your average doctor. This might also happen with driving a car. And with many other everyday issues that currently fill our days.

In the midst of all the replacements and social storms, it is reasonable to ask how and where we will find our mental workplaces and meaningful tasks in the future. What will happen to workplaces? What about the welfare state? A new cooperative society is the light at the end of the tunnel. In the real estate sector, the current co-working phenomenon (and it’s not only about a makeover of office hotels) will evolve into a communal tool for self-realisation designed to identify meaningful tasks that make a difference. Technology already supports the emergence of cooperative forms of collaboration. Alongside traditional nations, we will see how cooperative islands of the like-minded evolve. The current capitalist oligarchy will face competition. It is already possible to do good together, across organisational boundaries. The digital dimension takes the opportunities to an entirely new level. Welfare states are turning into welfare communities. Tickets to such communities comprise an active mind, courage and good will. No invitations will be sent to anyone slouching on the couch.

Join us! Welcome the new world!

Jyrki Yläoutinen
Executive consultant
Workspace Oy

The author is exhilarated about cooperation that generates value and meaning with no regard to organisational boundaries or hierarchy. A valuable idea or action does not depend on position, age or other background issues. Against institutionalisation – for being inspiring!