Is Your Office Space Prepared for the Interconnected World?

A general, widespread business trend related to the future of the workspace is the rise of the globally integrated enterprise (GIE). This concept is not new, but developments in technology are now making worldwide integration more prevalent.

Background of the GIE idea

Former IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano defined the globally integrated enterprise in 2006 as “a company that fashions its strategy, its management, and its operations in pursuit of… the integration of production and value delivery worldwide.” http://www.foreignaffairscom/articles/61713/samuel-j-palmisano/the-globally-integrated-enterprise Due to transforming notions of globalization, corporations have developed a borderless perspective that is a new rendition of the multinational enterprise.

Essentially, the GIE involves two fundamental shifts: the location of production can now be anywhere (think India and China), and so can the workforce (think third-party specialists).

The first of those shifts is evident with the 60,000 manufacturing plants constructed in China from 2000 to 2003 (according to Palmisano’s figures). The second is largely a matter of worldwide technology integration, allowing x-rays of European patients to be analyzed in Australia and American product warranties to be processed in Canadian customer response facilities.

IBM notes that the future of the workspace is highly adaptable: by structuring the business to suit integration across the planet, companies are also able to compartmentalize different departments. Once a corporation has separated itself into its various segments, it is then primed for reorganization “based on strategic judgments about which operations the company wants to excel at.”

Internal technology integration

While the message by Palmisano is primarily one of outsourcing and the use of outside vendors, that’s not the only way to understand the future of the workspace.

Facility Management magazine (FM magazine) describes the globally integrated enterprise as one that uses “nodes, which could be… anywhere around the world, that work together in a giant virtual network.” In other words, companies are wanting to use cloud computing technologies ( increasingly in private and hybrid forms) as broadly as they can, so that they can transfer ideas and data seamlessly regardless of any party’s location.

Reframing the GIE as a form of interconnected workplace, the FM magazine report describes three needs of telecommuters around which we can develop actionable strategies:

Collaboration – which can be informative (in other words, educational for some parties), evaluative (looking at documents together to determine courses of action), and generative (teamwork geared toward innovation).

Social connection– which incorporates office design that allows face-to-face communication, spaciousness to foster mobility, and open (as possible) technology integration so that everyone has input.

Environmental diversity – which aims for a blended environment that creates a broad range of “interrelated zones,” the ability to move around and work sitting or standing, and some degree of personal freedom related to work location.

Palmisano’s concept of a globally integrated enterprise is still relevant today as technology advances and a worldwide approach becomes more commonplace. Integration is just one concern, though, when planning the space of your environment. At Beaux Arts Group, we create adaptive settings with furniture geared toward the needs of the interconnected workplace. Explore our portfolio, and contact us to discuss your project.