The Collaboration Conundrum and Housing

Dr Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insights and Futures at BT gave a very interesting lecture on Collaboration to the BCS in Belfast in October 2017..

For the first two years of my computer science degree, we had to study behavioural science and after 45 minutes with Nicola it was clear why. IT is all about people.

Nicola gave us some fascinating insights into the way that teams work and how organisations are trying to address the opportunities and problems created by technology and the rise of remote working.

If you are a multi-national organisation, this problem is exacerbated by local culture and values. For example, in countries such as Japan and Germany, your job is part of your social standing. Going out to work rather than working from home is seen to be important.

To make matters worse, companies are now dealing with perhaps four or five generations of workers, each with a different approach to how they work.

Imagine having five generations working in an office like this – MIT Media Lab CityOffice.

For myself, Nicola made two key points.

  1. One size does not fit all and that managers need to identify what works best for their team. Don’t simply copy what others are doing, your environment is constantly changing.
  2. Collaboration is a skill that companies need to recruit and develop. Which leads to another question, ‘who owns the collaboration conundrum’.

So what has this to do with housing? Well companies such as Facebook and Google do not see a lot of home working. Maybe it has something to do with slides and all the other ‘cool’ stuff they get up to. It might be the ‘buzz’ of being with other people and working on a problem or project. But here is another idea. Maybe a lot of their employees are still living at home with Mum and Dad, and they go to work to get out of the house. Isn’t that what lots of us do?

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