Redefining the Cube

Today’s employees enjoy flexing their work muscles beyond traditional physical office boundaries. How can you deliver?

Employees now move fluidly between desks, conference rooms, and project groups, carrying their work devices with them. They check email while eating lunch at the café and work from home, the road, and abroad.

“Technology makes it possible to do a job without a physical office and enables me to work remotely with seamless transitions from city to city,” says a 32-year-old project manager for a consumer goods company.

She’s currently in Bogota, participating in Remote Year, a program that facilitates traveling and working in a new location each month. After wrapping up three months in Peru and Columbia, she’s heading to Mexico City.

“My main concern was having clients or colleagues being able to reach me,” she says, “but with voice calling apps and technology, it hasn’t been too difficult. No one has asked me ‘Where in the world are you?’”

While this may be an extraordinary example of the new workspace, employees have come to expect a digital work style that gives them greater flexibility. This article summarizes how eight end users 29 to 62 years old, across the United States and in a variety of industries, view getting work done today.

Flexibility: The ups and downs

The days of being tied to a specific desk are waning, which is seen as a significant benefit of digital work today .

“So many applications are now web-based; I can access them anywhere,” says a 62-year-old public services librarian. “Years ago, there were things I had to do at my desk. Now I can do them at different desks and at home if I want.”

The digital life has also made workers more efficient. For example, a 29-year-old sales manager for a logistics company says his work technology “keeps me organized and focused even when I’ve got 12 things going on at once.”

Having multiple apps, especially when they’re not tied together in some way, can become overwhelming. End users cite obstacles such as having multiple unique logins and the inability to pull data from one source.

Only one worker interviewed, the 29-year-old sales manager, has a single digital interface, gained through an identity and access management system. He says prior to his company deploying the solution, “I had to pivot from app to app to gather information. It was double the work.”

Another challenge to the new digital work style is more philosophical. “It’s hard to unplug,” says the 38-year-old director of a real estate investment company. “It’s almost seen as a stigma to tell people you’re unreachable.”

As the librarian says: “The work never ends.”

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