The open office concept is all the rage, both at work and on Wall Street. It is not only being executed in corporate offices but there is a booming industry of shared office space startups that take open office to a whole new level. These spaces do have some intriguing features like comfortable common areas to gather and in the case of shared office spaces like WeWork, beer on tap.
However, we have also seen the demoralizingly small workspaces at some companies and we hear the grumblings of workers about a lack of privacy and inability to focus. We are not owners of office buildings, nor space designers. We are, however, somewhat responsible for this phenomenon because we provide the tools that have enabled this to happen – workflow and document management. We do feel a little guilty, but enabling tiny workspaces isn’t the whole story.
It is true that the reduction in cubicle size has dropped significantly due to the fact that each employee no longer requires file cabinets for document storage. Desktops have shrunk since they aren’t stacked high with folders containing papers that need to be approved and signed. In fact, your desk may not even be Your desk anymore, its just a desk that can be reserved by the employee that came into the office that day.
On the flip side, a well configured document management system means documents can be accessed within seconds. No more hunting around the office for a missing document. No more standing over the copier for an hour because the auditors need supporting documents ASAP. No more wondering if the partially executed document that you did find in your desk is the best version available. There is plenty of good that has come from electronic document management.
Far more good and efficiency has resulted from the implementation of document workflows. Folders don’t need to be circulated around the office for approvals. Unmanageable email based approvals, where nobody knows who dropped the ball, are a thing of the past. Organized, trackable, reportable and mobile workflows have transformed how businesses function. Growth and profitability have accelerated due to expanded operational flexibility and control.
Yes, we do feel a little guilty for those employees that find themselves in less than ideal work environments. But at the same time, those employees can thank workflow and document management providers for eliminating a lot of daily frustration and wasted time. We won’t feel guilty when you can solve a big customers problem from your couch on a Saturday during the big game.