Breaking boundaries to facilitate the changing nature of work: A case study of flexible work for the “new economy”
Hynes, N, Breaking boundaries to facilitate the changing nature of work: A case study of flexible work for the 'new economy', 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 5-9 August 2016, Annaheim, CA (2016) [Conference Extract]
Flexible work, contracting, start-ups, teleworking, knowledge work and the "boundaryless" career have all contributed to the "new economy". Yet this new flexibility can result in significant drawbacks for flexible workers including isolation, lack of job security and difficulties with work/life balance. Large organizations are often being replaced with dispersed groups of individuals working in flexible ways. Some individuals seem to benefit more from this environment than others and traditional thinking attributes this to individual personality characteristics and networking skills. This study reports the results of a 3-year study showing that shared workspaces can result in a myriad of innovative outcomes. Our discovery is this: facilitating the breaking of social boundaries, providing feelings of community and reciprocity, as well as providing designed spaces for people to feel safe, is far more significant in improving business outcomes as well as personal outcomes such as attitude to work and increasing their professional identity than networking ability or social capital. In addition, the designing of shared spaces needs to be redefined. Regional growth, skills training and even urban planning can benefit from this discovery.