The Goldilocks Phenomenon Part II

What does this mean for the enterprise?

Last week, we introduced our term for the trend towards increased customization of workspaces by knowledge workers: the Goldilocks Phenomenon.  To recap, as Goldilocks did, knowledge workers want something that is “just right” – in their case tools, not porridge.  If they are not provided with the correct tools, they will find them on their own, or modify the ones they are provided to get the functionality they require.

In the quest for the tools they want and need, they are not likely to ask permission, and will fly under the radar of management and IT departments as they customize software with add-ons, plug-ins, and coding.  This trend towards co-creating workspaces is particulary relevant for the new entries in the knowledge economy, the fresh faces of Generation Y, and those generations that will follow.  They have grown up surrounded by technology that they can personalize – if it does not do what they want, they have the expectation that they can change it so that it does.

For obvious reasons this presents huge headaches for the entreprise.  Many IT department managers can and will cite myriad reasons why computers need to be locked down and all users need to use the same tools.  Allowing employees to customize their work environments might be construed by some managers as relinquishing control and leading to software-use-anarchy.

What needs to be explicitly understood by management and IT departments is that the Goldilocks Phenomenon is not just about improving work tools.  There is a direct correlation to the bottom line; frontline workers know what tools they need, and perform better when they have those tools.  Innovation and increased efficiency are healthy for any organization.

Thus far, the Goldilocks Phenomenon has been happening largely unnoticed.  By and large, managers are not aware of these dynamics and think of any innovation that comes from the bottom up as an isolated case.  Companies are at a great disadvantage when they fail to recognize the innovation and ingenuity that their knowledge workers apply to their work environments.  In the case of Generation Y knowledge workers, if their work style is not supported they may vote with their feet, and go somewhere that allows them to bring the same innovation and talent that they apply to their job to their tools.

Find out more about this trend in Co-Creating the Workspace: The Myth of Standard Desktops and One Size Fits All Work Environments, a new report from Basex.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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