The distance dilemma - enabling collaboration through design.

Technology has changed the way we work. Organisations who realise this are coming out ahead. One of the ways to do this is through adopting technology and flexible working styles into the workplace.

Companies who create collaborative spaces outperform their competitors in responsive leadership and employee connectedness. That’s according to new research conducted by Nick van der Meulen (Rotterdam School of Management, Eramus University (USM) and MIT’s Centre for Information Systems Research (CISR).  

“Real estate, which is typically fixed and immovable, is traditionally slow to respond to change – but technology is not. Flexibility and adaptability are more key than ever. Regardless of whether we’re talking to investors, corporate tenants or developers, people and technology are at the core of everything – it is time for the workspace to adapt to 21st century needs.”

Nick van der Meulen

The report measured five key indicators of company performance, including market share, profit growth and employee satisfaction, and found that giving employees autonomy is key to obtaining success with digital workplaces

Organisations have four levers that they can pull to transform their workspace:

  1. Physical and virtual space

  2. Systems to support work getting done

  3. Enterprise social media (internal marketing

  4. Symbols that communicates the strategic significance of digital workplace design

Successful organisations also guide digital workplace transformation with two management focuses:

  • Leadership with a sustained focus on supporting digital workspace design.
  • Systemic learning processes to ensure continuous improvements in how work is undertaken. 
The 6S Digital Workplace Framework


Giving employees autonomy is key to obtaining success with digital workplaces. Employees thrive in a workspace where their managers trust their judgement and encourage experimentation with new approaches to work, have a high tolerance for failure of new workplace initiatives and provide continuous learning opportunities.

Responsive leadership is critical for companies who want to come out ahead in this digital age.

Read the full report here.