The Office of 2013

I’m planning to present at BarCampNYC3 talking about the office of the future.

It’s my proposition that the office and work culture will be in a transition by 2013. Overtime, office environments will look almost nothing like the traditional office environments of today. One of the forces driving these changes is the benefit from open knowledge sharing. Institutions, it seems, continue to discover increases in value (ROI) from opening-up closed environments. I foresee this trend eventually seeping into office culture.

For example, instead of hiring a jack-of-all-trades who is ‘okay’ at a lot of things, why not take that salary and instead hire several specialists who work with your firm for two months each? [Some may be familiar with the theory of weak ties]. I also love the idea of co-working largely because the inherent sociality allows for the injection of new ideas leading to innovations and better quality end-products. But, making work more open and social doesn’t necessarily mean working in the physical presence of large groups. Having a Twitter client open and attending several meetings throughout the week can be just as “socialâ€� as one person working in the same room as twenty others.

Consider some examples from private institutions that have embraced a more social and open approach and subsequently increased both popularity and ROI. TED, which used to be an exclusive conference available only to the elite ticket-buyers has allowed the world free access to its speakers and resources via its website. MIT has open-sourced many of its courses. Platforms like Google and Facebook have opened themselves to outside developers. Even newspapers such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have plenty of content available for free (yes, people actually used to pay for papers!).

The idea of increasing ROI by making traditionally closed institutions more ‘open’ and ‘social’ is a trend currently observed among the more technologically progressive. However, since enterprise innovations tend to lag behind other sectors in adoption, it stands to reason these same trends will ultimately permeate into offices, fundamentally changing work culture as we now know it.

Update: for a copy of the handout from my BarCamp presentation, please go here

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