At the end of last week, I attended the always interesting Smartworking Summit hosted by Quora Consulting at the RSA. The theme of the event was whether our workplaces are stifling talent and innovation.
The physical space is one of the 8 levers I mention in my 8 Step Guide to Building a Social Workplace, so it’s certainly a vital aspect of building an innovative workforce.
The event highlighted how increasingly articulate the workforce is about workplace issues, with a growing generation of people accustomed to work being something that does not require a fixed abode.
This is a theme that has witnessed a wide range of experiments to try and find the right balance and environment to inspire employees. For instance, last year saw the Dutch company Heldergroen hit the news after they designed an office whereby the furniture was lifted into the ceiling at 5.30pm each work day.
The aim was to prompt a rethink about work life balance and hopefully promote more employees to go home to their families rather than stay late.
The sleeping desk
Alas, there is considerable evidence of employers attempting to make workspaces so enticing that employees are disinclined to ever leave.
One example of this taken to extreme lengths is provided by the Greek design company NL Studio. They’ve developed a desk that can easily convert itself into a full size bed.
The aim is perhaps a noble one, in that they claim to be offering tired workers with the ability to quickly and easily take a nap whilst at work.
There is much evidence to support that, yet the notion of power naps remains one that is largely at the margins of workplace life. Much more prevalent are the enormously long hours that tend to lead to exhaustion.
It’s more likely, therefore, to imagine employees pretty much sleeping at their desk, barely leaving the office for fresh air, let alone a family/social life.
The desk itself comes with a thin mattress on the bottom, with a removable back and a flap that can open out and create a head rest. If that isn’t bad enough, the bed even comes with a computer screen attached to end so that you can remain plugged in, even whilst sleeping at work.
Suffice to say, it’s hard to see just who or where such a desk would ever find a home and hopefully such devices won’t ever become mainstream in offices whether large or small.