Paralysis by confusion: too much choice

i-FM's Workplace Futures conference, now in its tenth year, featured an array of topical presentations from industry experts operating across the spectrum of FM services. Underpinning the series of talks was the general acknowledgement that the world of work is changing; and that organisations must be ready and able to adapt to the shifting landscape, or else slip through the cracks of it and go under doing so.

According to each and every speaker as part of the day’s intensive line-up, various factors are contributing towards this drastic reform, including three key infrastructures: technology, corporate and social. The rise of technology will play a significant part in the inevitable workplace revolution, as will the workforce of tomorrow.

Leeson Medhurst, Head of Workplace Consultancy at 360 Workplace, highlighted that, in addition to the technological advancements of today’s world of work, five generations now make up the ‘modern workforce’. It is, therefore, imperative that organisations offer a working model and a workspace that can be tailored to suit the multitude of traditional and modern workers, in order to meet current and future needs.

The onus is on business leaders to use their space more effectively in order to improve employee engagement, productivity, and general wellbeing. Being savvy with a space can also help organisations attract and retain talent, which is vital in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

British businesses need to embrace change if they’re to successfully rise to the challenges ahead. However, with the ever-evolving discourse and dialogue when it comes to matters of ‘work’ and ‘place’, Medhurst suggests we are now subject to a ‘paradox of choice’.

“There is this deep-rooted idea that the more choice we have, the more freedom we have… Choice, therefore, has always been considered a ‘good thing’. But is it?” questioned the workplace expert.

“Organisations are constantly being bombarded with information – and ideas, theories, notions of best practice... In addition, businesses are having to sway to the rhythm of current trends; we can work where, when and how we want; on whatever devices we want, with the people we want (and don’t want); we can communicate how we want; sit where we want, eat, drink and socialise whenever and however we want… The list goes on.

“Needless to say, we have so much, perhaps too much choice, and this choice can either empower or paralyse us; it can either help or impinge our ability to cope with change.”

The solution lies in the conclusion.

The most important step on this journey into the unknown is having an open and realistic conversation about where a business currently sits. It’s about boiling down all the options and condensing all the choice into a simple framework that focuses on how space, people and technology overlaps.

Medhurst concluded: “In summary, it is only through honest and open probing that businesses can truly understand how to make the most of all this choice. Businesses need to focus on the space, the people and the technology at their disposal in order to sweat their assets.”

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