Imagine arriving at your office, picking up your personal effects, setting them up at your desk, and then clearing off the items and returning them on your way out. Now, imagine doing that every single day.
Siemens, the big German multinational, is making employees do just that. They’ve redesigned their offices in the wake of a major, global downsizing, and are trumpeting what they call NewWow (an acronym for New Way of Working). I call it HotMess.
I’ve seen variations of NewWow (or, hoteling, which is what it really is) in action at several large client organizations. It’s brutal. No one has an assigned work space. And, at the end of each, and every day, they pick up their belongings and wait until the following morning to find out where they’ll next be sitting. They’ve told me their productivity and morale suffer as a result.
Siemens disagrees. Their management believes such a nomadic lifestyle encourages more collaboration and worker productivity. I say it merely makes a large, impersonal workplace even more isolating.
One of the few ways in which employees CAN express their individuality and personality is by decorating (or, tricking out, their work stations). Some are very cool. Some are quite conservative. But, each enables the individual to express his, or her, world view.
I’ve taken that POV to the next level at Peppercomm. I’ve ‘adopted’ a pod located directly outside my office.
Our pod is very tight. We constantly engage in idle banter, share stories and end up dissing the most senior podmate (that would be me).
We also plan pod outings (or poutings, as I call them). And, we have a really good time every day. I’d even say we have our very own esprit d ‘corps.
If Peppercomm were to adopt the Siemens approach, I’d have four different employees sitting outside my office every 24 hours. There’d be no chance to get to know them, or chill with them.
I also think overall morale would suffer if we asked employees to bring in fewer personal effects, scoop them up each and every day, place them in a bag at the reception area and then find a new workstation on which to set them up the following day.
NewWow is bogus, and dead wrong for the Millennial mindset in particular. I believe younger workers revel in expressing their individuality. Take away their personal work stations, and I think you take away their passion as well.
And a tip o’ Repman’s kepi to Greg Schmalz for suggesting this post.