The alternative workplaceBy Isabel Berenguer Asuncion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The rising cost of prime property, an unpredictable world economy and the need to improve profit margins within a global market of constantly changing technology have driven businesses to rethink the way they configure their office spaces. Enter the Alternative Workplace Strategies.
Alternative Workplace Strategies is the term coined to define the combination of nontraditional work practices, environments and schedules that supplement or replace the workings of a traditional office work environment. It breaks the seemingly invincible bond between workplace and work performance.
While the conventional model of having the worker present in his workplace is a big factor in the measure of his performance, AWS goes beyond this traditional concept and allows for alternative arrangements and performance metrics, enabling companies to churn out as much productivity from their staff despite their “absence.”
More popular models
With this system, there is an opportunity to reorganize workspace configurations better, utilizing lesser square footage of expensive corporate real estate. Of the various models for AWS, the more popular ones are:
• “Flex-work” arrangements, or “Flexi-time” as locally known, which allows employees to choose the time they will report to work;
• “BYOG,” or “bring your own gadget,” wherein the employees make use of their personal computing equipment for work—giving them more freedom as to where to take their work, and reducing the employer’s concerns on equipment safekeeping, software costs and gadget upgrades;
• “Hoteling or “Hot desking,” where nondedicated and nonpermanent workstations are “booked” on a first-come, first-serve basis;/
• “Free address,” where workers or teams sort out their table assignments or workstations on the workday itself;
• “Desk sharing,” where two or more employees share a table or workstation based on an agreed schedule of use; and,
• “Work from home” programs, wherein employees do just that, and come to the office periodically, for reporting, meetings and other collaborations.
While AWS can drive significant costs out of a business through space reduction, it can also affect the level of productivity, especially when new policies are in and the workforce is still adapting to its unconventional work environment—or seeming lack of it. Aside from HR-related issues and policies that may arise from AWS, a critical factor in the success of the model is the planning of the workplace itself.
Since AWS promotes largely a remote, free-style employee lifestyle, a workplace for AWS must then be able to support activities that enhance the presence of the work team. In effect, it must encourage a very active environment that fosters discussions, collaborative activities and the sharing of information.
Bring the best out of workforce
As the office space itself has become less necessary, the configuration and aesthetics become even more essential in luring people in and making the work environment still well worth going to. Until such time that businesses can exist without collaboration, office spaces will exist to bring the best out of the workforce.
One person may generate a great idea alone, but it takes highly collaborative, work-life balanced and globally aware teams to make an idea tangible. So while new AWS concepts may still develop into fresher models with a growing mobile workforce, the inspiring and collaborative office environment will have to forever be there.
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