Author Paul Miller on The Digital Workplace and the evolution of the office


In his new book, The Digital Workplace, author Paul Miller doesn’t hail the death of the traditional office, vanquished by a rise in Web workers. Rather, he sees a more symbiotic relationship between the physical and digital work spaces.

The traditional office has reached an evolutionary plateau, according to Miller, but the digital tools we use to communicate both inside and outside of the cubicle will continue to improve to create more visceral experiences for the workforce. At the same time, Miller believes that the physical office remains important to provide social glue for the organization and head off total isolation of its employees.

Miller sat down with us for a brief video interview to talk about some of the key concepts in his book as well as the evolution of the digital workspace.


The Agile Organisation

There has been significant investment in new technology, infrastructure and workplaces over the last decade. However, the full benefits of this investment have rarely been claimed due to political inertia, poor management and a lack of business drivers in a profligate booming economy. The current “crisis” now provides the environment to dismantle these barriers to transforming work enabling the creation of more capable agile workforces and seizing the full opportunities from past investment creating digital workplaces that no longer focus solely on the place of work.

So who needs offices ? While I agree The Office is certainly not dead but its function is changing as technology enables and competitive financial pressure demands re-definition of work and the workplace. For some organisations the office is the glue that Paul refers to, but for others it is increasingly being viewed as underutilised, inflexible carbon inefficient liability that is a drag on rapidly changing organisational needs and business effectiveness.
The Agile Organisation:

Ramon B. Nuez Jr.

For me the roll of the office has become a burden because of the commute and not the work. I actually enjoy being at work for the social interactions with — supervisors, colleagues and vendors.

So it’s the social connection that I enjoy the most — I can do the work from anywhere. Case-in-point I wrote a post on the ferry this morning on my Note.

I don’t need to be at work to do work.

It’s also interesting how Paul references crowdsourcing at the very end. He never mentioned the work process by name but mentions a player in the service market — oDesk.

And I do agree with Miller — I see a future where some people will not be full-time employees. They will be freelancers, contractors, co-creators, temporary employees, etc.

Chris Albrecht

Thanks for the comment, Ramon. I too only pop into the office now for the social aspect. Cutting out the commute time has really boosted my own productivity.

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