How Changes In Workplace Culture Influence Workspace Design

The future of working: Nissan e-NV200 WORKSPACe is the world’s
Photo: Nissan Couriant

The closer we approach the year 2020, the more redundant the office cubicle is becoming. Our attitudes about why, how, and where we work are changing.

Workplace culture is changing how businesses operate and is driving the demand for alternative workspaces. The closer we approach the year 2020, the more redundant the office cubicle is becoming. Our attitudes about why, how, and where we work are changing. Unlike previous generations, it can be argued that the workforce of today and the future place a higher premium on self-determination and flexibility than higher salaries.

If you observe the labour market demand for businesses which acknowledge the need to offer workers flexibility in working hours and locations, you’ll realise that it has never been higher. As a result, those companies quick to adapt will attract the best talent. However, the challenge for many businesses is the lack of know-how and leadership that enables the effective transformation of business practices through rethinking performance measures, encouraging operational open-mindedness, embracing cultural diversity, and updating communication channels. All which are essential for responsive organisation.

Businesses which tend to have structures that are non-hierarchical and dynamic enough to take advantage of technologically enabled work management platforms have a greater chance of tapping into the resource niche that many millennials are seeking to be a part of.

Several companies are already making a success of this by empowering their workforce with the right technological solutions including project management software such as Trello, Slack, or Asana which enable remote working and collaboration and consequently minimise the need for conventional office based work routines. Applications such as Toggl which are great time tracking tools with an ability to create timesheet reports have completely changed the game in terms of making it possible to work while on the move. What is really important to note is that the way in which we implement a different management system should also be complemented by a psychological adoption of new ways of thinking alongside practical and innovative ways of doing things.

According to a study conducted by Virgin Media Business, more than half of all employees will be working from home in the next several years. A Polycom study also revealed that more than 30 million Americans currently take part in flexible working or work from home at least once a week and some 69 percent of Chinese workers are already working remotely. All this suggests there is a massive need for alternative workspaces.

To put things into perspective, it’s essential to shine a spotlight on ethonomics and the sharing economy in light of the growing trend and its implications not only on workspace interior design, but also architectural and industrial design. It is apparent that worker and consumer expectations are shifting, and this in turn is disrupting the traditional approaches to the way in which business is conducted. It is therefore critical that changes be brought to design thinking as far as creating new workspaces that align with this shift.

Many proponents of alternative work practices and workspaces positively make the argument that the workforce participating in this sector tends to be more focused on tasks and don’t feel restricted by certain workspace designs.

What the marketplace currently demands is a combination of integrative thinking, fresh design approaches, and optimal use of technology, all within a framework which factors in humanistic ethics and values.

One of the most notable trends which has come about as a result of the socio-cultural changes driving this new workplace economy is the rise of multipurpose spaces. The old distinctions attributable to assigning single purpose functions to specific architectural spaces are becoming blurred.

Alongside the architectural and industrial design sectors, significant changes are also taking place in manufacturing. Workspace design now incorporates new forms which are altering our aesthetics and the way we perceive utility. It’s no longer just a matter of buildings or other sites being designed or modified to address these changes, it is right down to the products being introduced in the market. We are seeing an increase in new product designs in all areas including some unexpected ones such as automotive industry with companies such as Nissan experimenting with new ways of designing their cars for purpose. Ultimately, the aim is to provide solutions to help increase productivity in a work world undergoing fundamental systemic changes.

‘Hot desking’ which takes after the business model popularised by companies dominating the sharing economy such as Airbnb, and which essentially allows individuals to participate in the short-term space letting market is experiencing a boom. Vrumi, a platform which connects professionals to homeowners who have available rooms within specific locations for temporary occupation is one such player. Parties involved who may initially have concerns about safety are often surprised at how effective peer reviews are as a standard feedback feature which promotes transparency and provides a blanket of security especially when making dealings in today’s social-driven world.

Other companies, the likes of Peerspace, PivotDesk, LiquidSpace, and even Google with its Google Campus offering in London, are already established players in the market of renting fully equipped workspaces for periods as minimal as a couple of hours to on-the-move workers, which is quite ideal for freelancers or startup employees who may not have the resources to take up a conventional lease with a regular estate agent.

A workspace is meant to foster creativity, encourage collaboration, or productive interactions. And many proponents of alternative work practices and workspaces positively make the argument that the workforce participating in this sector tends to be more focused on tasks, because they do not have to deal with the burden and monotony of typical office routines, or feel restricted by certain workspace designs. So, if your business is considering adopting a new approach to working practices in order to increase productivity, cut costs, or simply provide more flexible means of working for the benefit of business and employees alike, looking into alternative workspaces might just be the way forward.

Originally published in The Huffington Post 28/02/17

Picnic Finish iii

tasty treats on the table for brunch
summer setting: next to the baobab tree trunk

and she knows all my favourite stuff
quiche, cherry tomato and grapefruit punch

so on this sun-spangled Sunday
I’m thankful for her presence

and the way she expresses her love
in almost every little thing she does

I’m grateful because without her I may have never come to realise
that real love can satisfy every appetite


Heath Muchena, 2017

What About Art? iii

Create with your heart
Never letting ego stand in the way of art
And consider the impact your work might have on those who come into contact with it
But don’t concern yourself too much about what they may think of it


Heath Muchena, 2017

Garden Route Getaway ii

She thinks he’s cheating
Because she knows his weakness
Says he lusts too much
As if he’ll never get enough

So the idea that he’s out of town for the weekend
With his other other half
Is to her the same as putting their relationship on the verge of trust

Meanwhile in the garden route
They picnic amid summer flowers
A connection is blossoming
And it’s magical
So to simply call it lust would be outright unjust


Heath Muchena, 2017

The Power of Ideas

Since an idea is the result of familiar factors
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that nothing is ever new
And that elemental changes in circumstances
As life, subject to time, continues to present different sets of events
Enable novel notions

Thus, to be original
Implies that one should apply fresh thinking
By enquiring into established estimations
In order to come upon divergent realisations

But to do so
Creativity, imagination, and reasoning
Should be brought to bear
For the purposes of problem solving
And if one happens to have a dream
Then all meaning will be discoverable in the transformation of the vision into reality


Heath Muchena, 2017

What I See? Eternity…

loving oneself
is looking inward
while accepting the exterior
through the eyes of heavens above
all doubts aside


Heath Muchena, 2017

Lead or Lose

no person is a precursor of their own destiny
because influence is ever present
whether through the media, a teacher, or parent

but since learning is inferential
it is ultimately the individual’s responsibility
to fulfil their full potential and impact the planet
or waste away through decadence

so all I can really say is that
lead in order to learn
but also learn to lead


Heath Muchena, 2017

Journey back to Jacaranda iv

Hip hip hooray
The cronies sing
Happy 93
To president R.G.

I read in the papers today
How you think our young men have lost their way
For they continue to serve others
Instead of building their own

I have to admit that part really did hit home
Because when I look all around me I don’t see
A black man’s name on anything I call my own

Just yesterday mom messaged me
Son please come back home
Here you’ll find comfort
Support and a backbone

A fine roof over my head awaits
And for that I’m thankful
But the question is do I still believe
In a nation whose woes have made it almost impossible to be hopeful?

But then again, maybe she’s right
Gabriel the Great too
Because hope can only be lost when one gives up
And the contents of my magnum opus homeland lie therein

So my participation and contribution is needed now
Can’t wait for kingdom come
To push the country forward

Still, I’m hesitant
And somewhat disengaged
From the people and their stories

Mothers’ and fathers’ whose hearts were left torn
When children went away and were gone for far too long

In my case there’s no escape
For there, without doubt, is where I’m bound to discover
All the tales of illuminating glory

So I must journey back to jacaranda
To find soul, self, and purpose
At last


Heath Muchena, 2017

Inspiration Everywhere

The poetry of business
Is surely the business of poetry

And in my pursuit of excellence
I’ve encountered profiles of many men who
Have certain qualities I consider worth emulating

Just last weekend I measured myself up against
David Rubenstein – for what it’s worth
Thinking how I’d also give away the wealth
If I’m ever fortunate enough to amass

Even though I’m currently facing growth challenges
To which I’m trying to adapt
Through market-based self-management
You’d think I was Charles Koch or some such…

In any case, if much doesn’t make sense
Just take that as a negation of purpose on my part

And please pardon me
For I beg thee, do not be incensed
At the structure – as you critique what I compose
Or at the metaphors – there is order to the randomness of choice
And on this night it so happens these are the designs of my imagination
So here it goes

And you’re welcome to come along for the ride
But you should first set your mind free before you conceptualise
Be Gerry McGovern for a moment
Enjoy the natural high

And I, will continue to write
In between taking tokes of my homegrown Quinnington gold leaf
Clouds in the sky
Scheming of ways to get rich

I hope you’ve figured out how, you too, will get yours
And if not, just ask Lloyd Blankfein

You see, the business of poetry
Is undoubtedly the poetry of business


Heath Muchena, 2017

Digital Consumer Engagement and the Economics of Experience

Exploring the Experience Economy and New Ways of Enterprising

Photo: Laflor/ DATA/ i_collage/ Pu/ Shoots 

The concept of “free as a business model” has existed since the advent of commerce. It has long been understood, from the times of age-old merchants who pioneered world exploration, to the more recent years which have been largely dominated by modern day business and social entrepreneurs. Whether we consider the actions of luggage carriers who used to offer ship boarding assistance free of charge to passengers, or we observe the free content provisions made by today’s digital influencers; it is apparent that experience economics exist on several levels of human activity, particularly that which takes place online.

It becomes even clearer to see that we, by nature, instinctively appreciate the need to create experiences for the enjoyment of others in order to indirectly strengthen our bottom lines. What is not so apparent is our fundamental understanding that the experience economy is not an idea or area of study to be simply ignored as intellectual innuendo because it does in fact form the core basis on which the idea that existence is by definition a service function of life can be asserted.

In society today, value exchange takes place in layers and via multiple channels. For example, artists are able to invite audiences into their world, engage with them from the comforts of their creative spaces, and share intimate insights about their lives through the use of text, imagery, video, or audio, at the right time and on the relevant platforms. Academics and other professionals do the same by sharing ideas and using similar methods of delivery.

Much of this activity is done with no direct intent to charge the experiencer, but instead to initially provide value. From YouTube videos, audio podcasts, webinars, journals, blogs, games, to other social media content forms, this fluidity of touchpoints is common in today’s open business models and technology has attributed much to their emergence and proliferation. You don’t need to be an “ideation expert” to understand the creative process behind generating business models then streamlining by implementing only the best. Many business persons already make use of similar principles of design in their strategic approaches to decision making. The only thing missing is the full appreciation of network science in helping us to connect the dots.

Conventional wisdom regarding experience economy activities doesn’t necessarily take into account or explore the possibilities of delivery and not only the service of delivery, but the actual information sharing which then becomes the springboard for the income generating activities.

You have to give something away in order to make something back. Kartik Hosanagar, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania described it best when he wrote that “The demand you get at a price of zero is many times higher than the demand you get at a very low price.” I subscribe to that notion and believe that creating demand through experiences allows you to capitalise at the higher tiers of the customer engagement and buyer journeys.

What is required is a proper understanding of which points in the value chain we can capitalise on during our value sharing activities.

According to Pine & Gilmore, two pioneers who are experts in study of the experience economy, “an experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.” They also make reference to what they call “The Progression of Economic Value”, a theory meant to show the differentiation between production, manufacturing, service delivery, and experience provision. My assertion however, is that we don’t always have to view the experience as a transaction which only takes place immediately prior, during, or after the moment of experience.

The experience creates a strong and lasting impression yes, but the actual transaction can takes place long after the fact, as in the case where people make a purchase as a memento of an experience. We have to remember that it is mostly in internet based experiences, largely accessible to the digitally enabled, that the underpinnings of today’s customer engagement with a view to ultimately encourage those customers to buy are to be found. In most instances, the sale is not directly perceived by the experiencer as attributable to their engagement with a particular activity which offers that experience.

Take a YouTube channel for example, the revenues generated can be as a result of audience engagement with content irrespective of any direct cost to either the creator or the audience, but through third party ads which may be viewed intermittently during the course of core content consumption. Content compensation schemes in the form of enabling or referral fees are agreed on directly between the platform owners or site hosts such as Google and the advertisers, but then also with content producers through frameworks such as the YouTube Partner Program.

If we are to be frank, most of us would admit to our fancies having been tickled occasionally by the stimulating utterances of “make money online” evangelists. The opportunities presented by the digital era and the internet platforms which allow us to interact with others are immense. What is required is a proper understanding of which points in the value chain we can capitalise on during our value sharing activities. We used to group offerings into just two distinct groups of simply goods or services, but now experiences – whatever their forms, ought to be considered a category all on their own.

The important thing is to remember that for a business or individual to succeed, the products or services have to be transformed into value perceived experiences. To achieve this, it’s crucial to recognise the need to invest largely in content creation which is in essence, the expression of experience. It is true for the artist as it is for the expert that to monetise activity in today’s world, one may need to give up or exchange the rights of access to their ideas, creative processes, or technologies in return for support; which ultimately creates opportunities for pecuniary compensation through “productisation”. The experiences created have to give enjoyment, knowledge or other value forms to sustain interest, which can then be driven towards the point of transaction at an appropriate time.

The same holds true for the corporation. That is why you see more and more strategic manoeuvres being made by companies such as Renault which recently acquired an ‘Uber-model’ on-demand transportation startup called Karhoo whose service is built around an experience and is aimed at catering to the emerging consumer trend of people that are more concerned about experiences than they are about protracted ownership.

Originally published under the title “What It Takes To Be A Successful Business On Digital Platforms” in The Huffington Post 21/02/17