Communities are changing office behaviour
From Occupy to Offices, how digital platforms are connecting and driving cultural change.
I. Welcome back & follow up
Good Morning ☀️ For those in the US, happy 4th of July weekend 🇺🇸 ✨
For me, it’s been a weekend of reading and wine! 👨🏽💻 📚 🍷
This week as follow up, we can look a little further about how platforms, and their design, are shifting culture globally, and how this is impacting business culture. Platforms have been enabling and building communities that are having global influence for political and activism groups for over a decade. Individuals have been using these platforms to build better representation for themselves and for those who feel like they lack a voice.
Now, post-COVID, this level of individualism and community activism is trickling into the work place more than ever, and impacting the future of how we work.
With that, let’s get to it…
If you have found this newsletter useful in any way, feel free to share or forward to others. It helps greatly in finding new readers and individuals for engaging discussions.
II. From Occupy to Offices
I think we can all agree design isn’t simply layout - it’s how we use and engage with products. It’s the world we create through what these products enable.
If you’ve kept up with this newsletter, you know I love Zeynep Tufekci. I’ve recently been making my way through her book Twitter and Tear Gas, which is all about how social media platforms have enabled community activism that has changed the world.
She sheds light on how these tools are used for successful decentralised protests. How protests now often have no leader in favour of aiming to represent every individual and build a sense of individual agency across the movement. A rejection of the current style of Government, Capitalism, and many company structures.
More broadly the book is about how platforms have globally enabled individuals to find each other and connect like minded people. The design and use of digital platforms are allowing those who never had a voice, to now find one.
That isn’t to marginalise the oppression or negativity that happens on the platforms themselves, and how they have also collectively hindered society, but for a moment, let’s see the positive.
Side Note - a abookapart is putting out a book on Designing for Safety! If you are concerned on the negative impacts of design on the world, pick it up.
In Western countries we love to label the negative with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or others - because we are privileged to have freedom of speech, choice, love, and more. It’s good for all of us to remember what these platforms have enabled for building communities across the world. It truly is becoming a world of hyper-personalisation for everyone as they create their own unique online world with their own groups of like minded people. The design and usage of these platforms is fundamentally reshaping our world, our behaviours, and through that, how we work. The individual is not only more individualistic and catered to than ever, but also has a louder voice than any time in history.
Discord, Twitch, Patreon, Telegram, and so many more building on top of this and building more for communities to help individuals both connect and amplify their voices. Products are now built to both shape and capitalise on changing behaviours. They’re also changing entrepreneurship, how we build companies, and how we deliver entertainment among other areas. Being a designer has never had such an ability to impact our global behaviours.
Literally everything is changing - and as designers we have a chance to shape the future.
The connection between design and culture has never been more important, relevant, and I dare say vital to our existence.
Communities are also fast reshaping our company culture and working style post-pandemic. We see employees and workers challenging work culture, office culture, and being in physical spaces to complete their work. It has gotten to a point that at Apple, a company known for in-person culture, a group of employees are pushing back on going back to the office in a desire to have their individual voices heard within their community. Digital tools are allowing employees to see that they are not alone in wanting change - and through global connectivity to find united voices, there is a growing courage to force change.
Zooming out, it feels you can trace the work and office cultural changes that are happening now to the protests of Occupy Wall Street or protests at Tahrir Square. New and stronger communities are forming thanks to digital tools and platforms. Individuals are demanding a voice, and that is not simply in our Governments, but also within our companies. It’s mind-boggling to see these macro-trends in global communities bleed into our day-to-day working and office lives.
Perhaps now is the time to leverage an old saying - Go slow to go fast.
New communities and behaviours take time, but if everyone is engaged, shouldn’t it be worth it? My mind races with the new tools that can better support these communities and better support a society in which all voices are heard, respected, and raised up towards building equity for all.
While sometimes I find myself thinking “but… this won’t work for [insert reason], this isn’t how we should be working” I also must remember in the end, what I think or I believe is inconsequential.
Culture, structure, and society are changing - and this is impacting our office, our work, and how we think of our employee experiences.
As leaders, we can either keep our head in the sand and risk our workforce. Or keep our ears open and continue to listen to those who make companies run.
Happy Monday, happy week, happy 4th of July, rock people! ✨
Thank you for reading! Rock 🔥