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Work and the future

By Senator Manny Villar

My recent visit to Silicon Valley in San Francisco and what is emerging to be the next Silicon Valley in the US, Seattle in Washington state opened my eyes to the enormous possibilities of the future. It reminded me that change happens very fast and consequently we, as individuals and as a society, need to understand how these new technologies might transform the way we work and the way we live our lives.

Let us consider the workplace for instance. We have been accustomed to the traditional office layouts: the cubicles, bare and lifeless beige walls, and dull corporate atmosphere.

Many offices of tech giants have challenged these assumptions and turned the office world upside down, literally and figuratively. We are seeing more “offices” that are more fun, colourful and pleasurable.

Microsoft, to cite an example, is known for offices that feature desks or tables with a large touch-screen tablet.

This apparently allows workers to meet and access information with ease.

Google offices are famous for slides employees use to slide from one floor to another. It’s a fun way to go down to the cafeteria where the special menu prepared by Google’s chef awaited hungry staff members.

Amazon placed whiteboards in all their elevators and created open areas that encourage spontaneous meetings for staff members. Better to discuss the next app we are going to create than listen like zombies to elevator music while waiting to get off our floor.

I also read that a tech company installed swings to their offices. Here you don’t just swivel, you can swing to unleash the creative genius in you. Many other tech offices have playrooms where employees can – at their own time – play pool, darts, or just doze off to get the necessary boost.

The philosophy behind these innovative workspaces is that employees must be given the proper atmosphere in order to increase productivity. It assumes that a fun, creative and free workspace will produce fun, creative, free and productive workers.

Why should you be shackled in your desk from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon? Why can’t you be allowed to wander into the playroom at 11 am just to get the cobwebs out of your brain and then have lunch at 3 pm?

It’s an interesting notion, of course. But it is something that may not apply to all business. Some offices still believe that structures and codes create an ordered atmosphere to get the best out of employees. I guess for millennials and tech employees, creative workspaces definitely works.

But I think we can learn a thing or two from these tech companies without necessarily transforming our office spaces into a playground. And I think also that the idea of providing workers with flexibilities can provide for better environment where they can produce better outputs.

This visit changed my perception in many ways. For one, I have begun thinking about what my business would look like in the future. I think the rule in this era where technology changes as fast as the traffic signs are that we must adapt or perish.

We need to understand how technology can impact the way we do business. There are now many online technology that allows company to hire workers using a specific algorithm.

I also reflected on how these technological changes can transform our country. I think we need to start investing on building information and technology infrastructure that will allow our countrymen to make use of hi-tech developments.

A nationwide broadband program is a step in the right