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The Workplace of the Future

All News, Faculty   -  29. September 2015

Greater flexibility and opportunities for entrepreneurs and employees

Speaking as a business psychology expert at this year’s HRM Expo in Cologne on the subject, “Future Work: A New Working World” was Prof. Dr. Irene López, Head of the Business Psychology Department at the Cologne Business School.

For the 17th time the HRM Expo took place in Cologne and is, with 651 exhibitors and 15,262 visitors, Europe’s largest trade fair for Human Resource Management.

In her lecture Prof. López primarily focused on the results of implementing smart working strategies in companies as well as which corresponding change processes and challenges can be expected in the future. As support for her argumentation Prof. López presented the latest findings from a research project made possible by a collaborative effort between Detecon International and students at the Cologne Business School.

Concrete changes have become noticeable owing to the fact that procedural instructions, that is assessing performance by the number of hours spent in the workplace, are being replaced by target agreements, project work and actual results. There is also a dissolving of strict hierarchies in organisations while also a blurring of lines between work and leisure time and between workplace and home environments.

This gives rise to both opportunities and risks. Among other things, the opportunities arise from the increased ability for individuals to configure and determine for themselves their own workplace, which integrates flexible ways of working as well as decision latitude.

Risks can be seen in the successful implementation in which the concept of leadership must be re-implemented. This not only means the ability of staff to assume individual responsibility and decision risks, but also the ability of executives to support employees in meeting these demands. Future managers therefore need to have greater empathic abilities.

Rigid vocational profiling and strictly regulated types of employment are being replaced with flexible, team-oriented working methods. Teleworking away from the office and project work are on the rise while inflexible working conditions continue to slacken. The rigid workplace allocation is giving way to the structure of an open office and so-called desk sharing; non-territorial office environments are emerging. Correspondingly, interior designers and managers are being challenged to develop and create concepts that will effectively meet these challenges.

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