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Design for Integrated Work

There are many drivers of change in today’s business world. We are seeing a shift away from the classic “command and control” business model, in which the organization is designed as a pyramid, with top down leadership. This design worked well in an era of limited communication technology with mass marketed products intended for a homogenous consumer base. The individual employee was the unit of work, and work occurred in a static location—often within a private office. Most professional employees were men and there were only two generations at work.

Today, the collective wisdom of the group has become the driving source of innovation and decision-making. Companies are striving to become organizationally “flat”—breaking down internal organizational silos, and encouraging teams to cross-pollinate ideas and to take a multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving. The team or group is now the basic unit of work and their work products are knowledge-based and, thus, often intangible. Using the Internet and telecommunications technology, employees are becoming highly mobile, and work now occurs in a variety of individual and group modes and spaces within and external to the facility. Thus, the workplace is becoming a resource, rather than a specific place that people go. The demographic composition of professional workers themselves has radically changed and now reflects for the first time a majority of women, four generations at work, and a significant diversity of race and ethnic backgrounds.