photo: Interior Design Magazine

By Katie Boothroyd
The UNWIRED WORKTECH11 Conference was held this fall at the new Nokia workplace in Sunnyvale, California. Many experts in their respective fields came to discuss and learn about topics including the future of the workplace and spatial considerations, what’s important for attracting and retaining talent, and how to “rationally” integrate virtual and mobile working into one’s work schedule.

This was my first time attending a WORKTECH conference so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Below are a few “take-a-ways” from the event:

The Space
The space consisted of retractable walls to create different sized spaces and opened up to the event reception area where food and information tables were placed. It was unfortunate there was not a tour as part of the conference, but there is more information about the Nokia office in an Interior Design Magazine article. I was on my way to the restroom and noticed a very interesting feature of the workplace– the IT department and Workplace team’s service windows. These windows are set up for employees get quick and easy IT assistance. What a great idea!

Standout Presentations

  • Increasing Populations in Urban CitiesDr. Hamid Shirvan, President, California State University, discussed the trend of increasing populations in urban cities and the blurring of urban and suburban landscapes. Companies are moving out to smaller cities to create their “place” and develop small suburban nodes or mini-cities where people can work and live.  People want and expect flexibility to work out of the office, says Shirvan, but still want to be able to get to the office with a short commute. His discussion hit home for me after a few recent trips to Pleasanton and San Ramon in the East Bay near San Francisco. What seems like a future “wannabe” Silicon Valley, towns around the San Francisco Bay Area are offering more reasonable commutes and standards of living.
  • Crowd Sourcing Collaboration-I was especially intrigued as to how companies are (and are not!) using technology to change the way they work and communicate. Open IDEO gave a presentation about crowd sourcing collaboration to solve some major world issues. It would be interesting to use a similar platform internally for large virtual brainstorms or knowledge gathering. Broader and virtual collaboration is something we at DEGW are trying to improve upon. We are also testing many new methods and tools, and helping our clients improve their virtual collaboration.
  • Virtual and Remote WorkingDEGW is seeing this as a major issue with many of our clients. Our client, Dawn Birkett from Salesforce.com said it best: most people in the pilot group were already working remotely about one day per week, either at other Salesforce.com offices or from home. However, there was not consistency between groups or any way to measure who was participating and when. A flexible work programed called Flexforce, was created to provide support and consistency at Salesforce.com. I should also mention that DEGW had a hand in developing the program. Kevin Kelly, senior Architect at the GSA Workplace research group  also had insightful things to say about flexible working and telework. Although the trend is to provide more flexibility and choice of where (and sometimes when) employees want to work, Kevin’s talk was about “rational mobility”, meaning giving the flexibility to those it’s appropriate for. A Mobility and Telework Policy has recently been put in affect at GSA and according to the GSA’s blog they are hoping to serve as a model for other Federal Agencies (and hopefully have the help of Kevin and his team).
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