The Evolving Workplace
Over the last 20 years, the working environment has evolved into a different animal, often completely contrasting with the business atmosphere and processes of more traditional work ecosystems.
Although this change has been part of a steady shift over a number of years, when one looks back at the tools, resources and collaborative boundaries long held as a standard, the differences can be pretty stark.
No More Business as Usual
When I look back at where I was when I began my career in tech, I can remember being on the cusp of this progression. None the less, the “9 to 5, at a desk, in an office” mentality was still something that was fairly typical and often, even expected.
But just as technology has evolved, the workplace has evolved in a myriad of ways as well. From the now common remote work culture, to increasingly “flat” processes, the differences are tangible. There are a few key things that stand out to me when doing a mental side-by-side comparison:
– The speed of business has increased
It wasn’t rare for bigger projects to take much longer to complete. This was due to a number of reasons, including obstacles (including technologically) when it came time to quickly collaborate on the fly. The rigidity of barriers is decreasing at a more rapid rate. Now, business is not only done more quickly due to a more instantaneous ability to work together, but also because tools, data and info are often more sophisticated and readily available.
– Leaders are embedded
Although you may have experienced a more traditional workplace, it’s increasingly common for today’s workplaces to include leaders that are not only within reach, but completely open to discussion. In other words, the role of “manager” has begun transitioning into true leadership positions, with leaders working in the trenches with the rest of their employees. What’s more, partitioned offices and separate floors for executives are becoming less frequent, with leaders built into teams and available to collaborate and communicate during the day-to-day. This increased approachability and lower level of formality has helped to make for increased creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and open conversation.
– Failure is thought of as a positive
One of the biggest learnings throughout the course of my career has been the fact that failure, as long as it isn’t fatal, is a good thing. Twenty years ago, failure tended to be avoided at all cost and was often looked at as the bridge to being fired. Now, as long as failures aren’t fatal and companies and their teams learn from their mistakes, failures are accepted as a byproduct of growth and learning.
– Retros are valued
Although failure can be a good thing, you can’t truly gain any value from it unless you know exactly went wrong, why and how to avoid those errors in the future. Today, retrospectives, or summaries of projects, their challenges and their wins, are much more commonplace— and to our advantage. This simple practice can help to make teams more efficient, effective, quicker and more than anything else, to learn from their mistakes.
– Employees are increasingly mobile
With the tools available to allow for a more flexible work schedule and environment, more employees are beginning to work remotely or on-the-go. This is due to the advent of cloud-based platforms and mobile apps, which can help to make chatting, video conferencing, sharing files, collaborating on documents, and info recall accessible anytime, any place. This has helped to make the workplace a much more autonomous place, allowing for many employees to work where and when they feel the most productive or to get things accomplished regardless of where they are.
One of the biggest evolutions of them all? In many cases, the workplace of today has truly helped to define leaders, creating an open marketplace of discussion and ideas. This ability to learn, converse, debate and think more freely has helped to support the quality of ideas and idea-flow, as well as a more collaborative work experience.