The Psychology of the Campus Work Environment

3B8C4233-7A69-4DCE-9C85-D65B4780A272A few decades ago the phrase ‘global village’ was used to describe the way that technology was enabling communication and collaboration to extend beyond physical borders. Today, that trend is in its maturity.

Not only is the world ‘shrinking,’ but so are the divisions between work and play and office and home.

The term ‘Work / Life Balance’ also made its appearance around the same time. Technology developments enabled us to work beyond the traditional 9 to 5 workday and economic considerations began exerting pressure on us to take full advantage of this new way to extend our productivity. The trouble was that we tended to become workaholics and our personal lives suffered.

None of that has really changed. What has changed is the corporate attitude toward this struggle. With our knowledge-based work environment, the greatest asset is our human capital. The result of that human capital being unhappy and stressed is eventual burnout.

To counteract this, and to attract and retain top talent, corporations are now finding ways to blur the lines between work and home.

IMG_0159Employers try to provide environments where employees can be themselves and feel as comfortable as they are at home. Creating campuses where employees can relax, go for walks, indulge their creative inner child and find everything from gourmet restaurants to hiking trails, removes much of the stress associated with going to work.

Flexible hours, mentoring and the opportunity to advance and make a difference are at the top of the millennial wish list. Living close to the office so that they have the option to walk or bike to work is also a high priority.

In response, many large corporations are moving away from the old-style corporate office model to embrace an all-inclusive campus model. Google describes their own model as their ” desire to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.”

Employees are given a huge amount of autonomy in designing their own workspace, whether that means choosing a standing desk, or even a desk built to look like a vintage car! A large array of on-campus perks can make going to work so attractive that employees won’t feel the need to ‘go home.’

It’s a kind of backlash, if you will, against the recent remote working trend, where employees are allotted  work-from-home hours instead of always being required to go into the office. Some, like Marissa Meyer formerly of Google and then of Yahoo, felt that remote workers fractured the team. In order to have top talent happy to go into an office, the work environment had to become the ‘most fun’ place to be – hence the Disney-like transformation of the traditional office into the ‘home away from home’ environment we’ve started accepting as the norm, especially in areas such as Silicon Valley.

Whether this trend this is a good or a bad thing is yet to be determined, but it is one that seems here to stay. It is becoming the universal expectation of the Millenial’s and Gen Z workers, who are now beginning to work alongside their Millennial and Baby Boomer colleagues.

What do know for sure is that the workplace will continue to evolve along with the technology that is shaping and influencing the way we work, the way we think and the way we function as a society.

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