From office to community

My blogs regularly follow nice comments or questions. Last week, I was asked whether I ever paid attention to the concept community in relation to the changing working environment. Earlier I wrote about ‘The End of the 9 – 5 Job’ and about ‘ The New Work ‘. Also, ” Before and After the Cloud ” was about the changes in our daily working environment. But workplace transformation is still a topical development.

Looking back to 1997, now twenty years ago, my own workplace did not change much. I already had a mobile phone, a business laptop and a private PC and with the Netscape browser we surf the internet. In addition to a corporate email address, I had a personal email address and even an email address in the cloud: hotmail . I also worked a lot at home like many colleagues with me. So well, how much is the workplace actually changed for me?

Time ahead

Of course, the IT world went ahead – sometimes even far ahead – on general development. The firstmobile phone call was conducted on April 3, 1973, but the mobile phone has not really entered the company until the beginning of this century. Around 2000, Nokia – certainly for Europe – was the company that made the mobile phone a common utility. And the 2007 iPhone only took care of the actual digitization of telephony and integration with the Internet. The first email was sent in 1971, but the social use of e-mail only broke around the same turn of the century. And then the first social media platforms also emerged.

But until 2010 most business workplaces did not change so quickly. ‘Old-fashioned’ agencies with desktop computers and laptop computers. And for corporate mail and files, you must log in to the office at the office. Getting these files from home was (and sometimes even!) Not yet possible for many organizations. So you could not work without coming to your physical workplace. How digital you were further.


Of course there were pioneers in the field of workplace change. The new work we mentioned and insurer Interpolis had already run serious projects in 2001 . The company first developed a headquarters without permanent workplaces in 1996, a novel for that time. This innovation soon created the idea that if someone does not have a permanent workplace, he or she can also “telewerken”. And in 2001, Interpolis created 350 workforce workers at home workplaces.

Actually, Bill Gates’s executive email of May 19, 2005 was the source of the term ‘new work’. Later that year, the first conferences were held in the Netherlands on this transformation of the workplace. A well-known foreman was Erik Veldhoen who contributed much to this new thinking with his book ‘the Art of Working’ from 2005. In his later book You-Topia, in 2010, from his previous experiences, he described the impact of the digital revolution on our work and our environment.

Digital workplace

A digital workplace does not have a physical location. You do not come to the office anymore to work because you can work everywhere. At least for employees who do a large number of digital executables in their workplace. In the nursing home, in the catering industry or when performing a stage or piece of music, the workplace is still physically determined. But in the world, digital possibilities for change and automation of activities are also possible.

A nurse can digitally follow a patient’s situation digitally. The waitress records digital orders and calculates digitally. Construction drawings can be studied from a tablet again, and the mobile camera’s advice can be requested from a colleague at a distance. The digital workplace thus allows more changes than just a variation of the physical place where you work. Also, the 9 to 5 schedule changes, physical attendance is planned differently and much information can be shared anywhere and real time with colleagues or relationships.

Network organizations

Our labor organizations are once again moving smoothly. Network organizations are no longer based on hierarchical administrative layers, but on communities that need each other to achieve a common result. To maintain that virtual contact and to work together in this way. The outpatient nurse who can treat the dialysis patient at home via hospital-related systems. Whether the farmer who remotely keeps an eye on self-propelled tractors. Or the automatic milking machines for his cows. And the automator manages his data center remotely.

As Veldhoen states, autonomy, craftsmanship, network and activity based working are the keywords of those new organizations. Own initiative and self-employment in a community that jointly have a common purpose. This development is also related to the rise of the ZZP-ers who also chose autonomy and self-employment as a working model. In this context, organizational models are changing both inside and outside in the same way.

Digital society

Our digital economy forces us to be digital and to make full use of the virtual possibilities created. If you are a competitor, you must do that. If you want a job, you will have to change. Business is based on personal trust, but new virtual social relationships can create this trust in other ways. Some people who you have learned – and trusts – can become logical collaborators in business. That gives many new opportunities for relationship and community building.

From 2006 to 2008 I was active at the then new Second Life, a virtual world with only avatars. Behind each avatar was a human, but at first you did not need to know how to have fun encounters and attend meetings. In retrospect, I learned from many, initially anonymous avatars, over the years. Both on social media and Facebook, but also through physical encounters. At that time, I made good virtual friends that I have never met physically yet, but know well, have regular contact and know exactly what they are doing and can.

In my blogs ” Your Digital Alter Ego ” and ” Software Defined Retail ” I have discussed this before. Also about the survival of the manager are discussions; after all, the smaller the organization, the less need for management. We are all working foreman or forefront. Because in rapidly changing organizations, hierarchical structures are far too rigid and inflexible, and self-managing teams are the solution to quickly recognize, address, and implement new changes. Return from central control, efficiency and management to decentralized approach, effectiveness and self-control.

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