We were asked by Wired magazine to come up with a concept that explained how we see the future of the workplace with the intention of increasing productivity and innovation. We started by distinguishing the problems that we faced day-to-day in the workplace, looking at what makes a job feel like a job and what limits the boundaries of creativity and innovation.
In a world where talented people need organisations less than organisations need talented people, we created ‘The Playground’ as a hypothetical revolutionary new workflow that looks to abolish prehistoric rules, hierarchies and job roles that we follow today and reimagines the work structure to be a level playing field where everyone's opinions and ideas count. ‘The Playground’ workflow is a forward thinking structure that all organisations should be looking to adapt in order to create a happy and healthy work culture and attract the most creative, interesting and exciting young people of the future.
The future of work is play
Instead of getting to work and being told what to do, or being given a long job list, employees are allowed to do what they’re good at. They are given a problem and are asked to solve it, in their own way. This understanding of people's talents allows colleagues to focus on what their strengths are and who will offer the most understanding/valuable advice for the particular problem. This would increase collaboration and build trust between all areas of employment.
The workplace as we know it Is prehistoric
We decided to distinguish the problems that we faced day-to-day in the workplace, looking at what makes a job feel like a job and what limits the boundaries of creativity and innovation. It’s these barriers that stop us from waking up in the morning and running to work with excitement. These boundaries create a repetitive and non-progressive environment in which prehistoric rules are followed. It’s what makes us lose passion for our passions.
With 'The Playground', instead of getting to work and being told what to do, or being given a long job list, employees are allowed to do what they’re good at. They are given a problem and are asked to solve it in their own way. This understanding of peoples’ talents allows colleagues to focus on what their strengths are and who will offer the most understanding/valuable advice for the particular problem.
Abolishing generic hierarchies including job titles ensures everybody feels of value to the Organisation...
“For organisations, it makes it easier to get rid of the people who don’t care about their work. When you leave the employees to their own devices, they get to choose how much work they want to create. This quickly separates the people who are passionate from the ones who aren’t, but also doesn’t stifle the creativity by allowing them to schedule their own timetable and manage their own workload.”
Set your own rules
A workplace with no conventions or prehistoric rules means that Michael can solve problems in his own way...
“The Playground is great for me because there are no set rules that I have to stick to. For example, traditionally when you walk into a new office you’d expect to be given a desk. I don’t work well sitting at a desk because I’m a maker and I prefer to be active when finding solutions to problems. I can go away and work on something in my own little zone, at my own pace which means that I’m happier about the work I’m creating. I actually love coming into work and seeing what new tasks lie ahead.”
The open workplace
A workplace with 24/7 access means that Katie gets to work the hours that suit her...
“Being a creative person it’s hard to come up with ideas when you’re placed into a high-pressured environment and given a time limit. I’ve always been more productive at night, so I tend to come into work later and work into the evening. If something isn’t quite working, I’ll go for a walk, or even go home for a few hours before coming back to work. Having this flexibility allows my creativity to run more smoothly. I’ve definitely been more productive whilst working under the structure of The Playground.”
Sprints, not marathons
Setting up daily short creative tasks and design sprints in teams to answer particular problems allows for collaboration and a fast-paced but healthy workplace. Steve explains how it works for him...
“The introduction of fast-paced design activities really helps at the start of a project when coming up with concepts. In the past, there have been times where I’ve hit a hurdle and been too scared to ask someone for help or input because they might be too busy. This flexible system and encouragement of 'design sprints' means that I‘m confident when asking for help and I’m always eager to help others too.”
In a traditional work structure, management can disregard creativity, as it’s hard to engage with something they don’t understand. With no official job titles, these employees are now included in the creative process. Individual talents are made obvious and understood by the whole team of employees and Tom says that it really helps with the collaborative process...
“This understanding of peoples talents allows everyone to focus on what their strengths are and who will offer the most understanding or valuable advice. This increases collaboration and builds trust between all areas of employment.”
Giving employees the option of voting for self-initiated projects in order to maintain that their personal creative urges and passions are being satisfied within working hours is important. Imran explains the process and how it works for him specifically...
“The Playground voting platform invites all employees to help propose, nominate and select upcoming self-initiated projects. The Playground breaks down which particular projects would be of most value to the company in an easy-to-digest way. As an engineer, I’m much happier and love the idea that we have some say on where the company is heading in the future as well as selecting ideas that we find the most interesting personally.”
It was a great exercise for us to try to tackle some of the problems that a traditional workplace setting throws up and coming up with some hypothetical solutions. It's also opened our eyes a bit on a personal level and allowed us to make some positive changes to our own workflow in order to be more forward thinking and productive as a studio and team.
Published by: madebyalphabet in Research & Development
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