ABC Resolution: New•Work•Places


July 2 – July 15

What if work had no place?

A coffee shop, cafe, train, plane, automobile, library, park, park bench, under a shade tree, in a hotel, motel, business office, home office, company office, at a distance, in the cloud, connected, distributed, flexible, mobile, local, global, in a satellite space, virtual space or outer space — any place you do work is your workplace. NewWorkPlaces are a state of mind.

NewWorkPlaces are more than a site, more than the physical walls that house furniture, equipment and people, more than a collective legal entity or set of company policies and procedures. They are the places where you think, communicate, engage, interact and produce. NewWorkPlaces exist wherever and whenever work is accomplished.

To create NewWorkPlaces, first look around you. Find and tear down the walls of your personal and organizational silos. Unbox yourself and your work, and innovate processes to create new business-as-usual models. Create new programs and skills to support this new way of working. Develop the business infrastructures and support systems, whether physical, mental or virtual, needed to support, advance and enhance the work of today and tomorrow, not yesterday. Work in new ways. Work in new places. Make this ability a business asset and a personal attribute. Work is different, so do work differently.

resolve to: work anyplace


This NewWorkPlaces picture is of the Tully Community Branch Library in San Jose, CA. Many people’s first reaction to this association as a NewWorkPlace is a library is not a workplace. I beg to differ. Your librarians are people who work and this is the place in which they do their work. Other people go there to also do work such as homework, home office work, regular office work, mobile office work and on the road work, et al.

This library is a new library. Like new work places, it provides access to information through the traditional world of the printed book. In addition, it opens up, more than can be contained by its four walls,  the larger world of knowledge through technology. Many libraries have now broadened their access in this manner. What this library goes beyond is embracing a new version of how people interact, not only with the physical entities of books, place and technology, but additionally, and more importantly, with the people inside.

I found this library on a rainy, January Sunday a few years back. Taking a different freeway off ramp to avoid backed up traffic, this unusual building with a full parking lot caught my eye. Reminiscent, at first glance, of 50’s diner architecture, I did a U-ie and drove into the lot. Full is an understatement. Not a space was to be found.

Upon entering, the place was abuzz with activity. Not too loud to be disruptive, and not that disquieting ‘silence’ found in most libraries and even some workplaces, and which I find to be the most annoying and undesired of all environments. Inside there was any number of spaces and activities. Some people were reading at tables, some snuggled into upholstered window seats, some on their own computers and some on the library’s. There was even a group of children with their mother gathered around a small table constructing something that looked like a science project. You can read more about the Tully Library on my original 2010 blog.

How this library is shaping the future is more significant than just an important statement on today’s new learning. When these children grow up and enter the workforce their concept of what is an acceptable and desired work place will be very different from any that exist today. Their future, however, is not some far off time that society can wait to get around to building. It is today and new work places are already needed in which to do today’s work.

It has been over three decades since people have started working in new ways, intertwined with technology, and almost two decades since people started attempting to create NewWorkPlaces to accommodate this work. Barely any, if none, have been able to achieve what this library is doing. The capability to physically work anywhere and any place is already accomplished. Building  or maintaining old barriers to it is like building a sea wall, thinking you’ll stop the slowly rising tides when, in reality, the rush will be a hurricane or tsunami. The barriers easily over run and the devastation far beyond the simple boundary. Most societies haven’t yet figured out how to live with tsunamis. But they have learned how to live with and build for hurricanes. They provide access and let the wind and water flow through. Acknowledge the existence and reality, not chug down drugs of denial. Work with, not against.

Space and place are a direct reflection of human intent. That place and space matters, in and of itself, is one of the most self-defeating business ideas, perpetrated and perpetuated by the workplace industries, about the future of work. If you enter a traditional library or workplace, you know who is in charge, and it’s not you. When you enter a place like the Tully Library or a Starbucks®, or any number of NewWorkPlaces, you are in charge. It’s your work and your work place.

You choose how and where you work best, choosing and challenging your own productivity. A meritocracy of work process enabled by place, the place itself chosen on it’s merits. Chosen as your work place, not for its representation and demonstration of wealth or power, rather for its ability to support and enhance your talents, abilities and accomplishment. Your creative thinking engaged at the outset, from the moment you sit down – NewWorkPlaces.

resolve to: Work Your Place