This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 19, 1999

Comforts of Home Coming to Work

227 days until January 1, 2000

Should your organization offer some kind of "alternative work arrangement" for employees? Yes, if it wants to join the ranks of Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and other top-tired companies. A survey of 100 Fortune 500 companies (as reported by Sloan Management Review) found that almost 3 out of 10 of the companies had an alternative work arrangement, and 15% were considering similar programs.

The main disadvantage is that it's hard on (some) manager's nerves -- managers who feel that, "If I can't see them, they aren't working." But home offices, "virtual officing," and "hoteling" (requiring employees to reserve a desk for their occasional visits to the office) will save money (by reducing the number of employees needing permanent desks), and will encourage workers to be more creative and to interact more freely with each other and with managers.

But these new arrangements won't work unless these temporary offices are made user-friendly. "Food and drink -- particularly coffee -- is key to making the office seem like home. Andersen's downtown office has a 'town center,' where people meet and sip freshly brewed java, as well as 'satellite coffee bars' with bistro-like bar stools and refrigerators full of free goodies. Throughout the floor are small conference rooms for impromptu meetings, with designer chairs and with tables equipped with computer plug-ins." (Morris Newman, "Think There's No Place Like Home? Try The Office," Los Angeles Times 22 Dec 98)

We see a trend toward making office environments seem more like home environments. Included will be more "officescaping"-- using plants (real, plastic, silk) to decorate work areas and separate one area from another. Furniture changes will add couches, chairs, and throw pillows for common areas to encourage conversation and comfort. Lamps, decoration, and music will create a different mood to reduce stress while maintaining^×or increasing productivity.

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