Rise of the Creative Class and the New “No-Collar Workplace”

by Ronnie Nurss on May 24, 2012

Continuing our series on The Rise of the Creative Class, let’s look today at what Richard Florida calls the “no-caller workplace.” Remember, to join in on this conversation, join us next Thursday, May 31, at 7 p.m. for the Book Club Pub Crawl.

The Creative Class has created a monumental shift in the new economy’s workplace over the past few decades. Members of the Creative Class are attracted to companies and organizations that have evolved and embraced the “No-Collar Workplace,” which is the result of companies adapting to the rise of the creative work tends to resemble a flexible, open interactive model of a scientist’s lab or artist’s studio more so than a traditional, rigid and chain of command type model of factories or corporate offices.

There are three major themes that comprise this new workplace that companies and offices in Sacramento should be aware of and adapt to in order to attract the most talented and creative talent possible.

The New Dress Code

One of the major trends in the No-Collar Workplace is the loosening of dress codes. There are many reasons for this but a major reason is simply that casual dress is more comfortable. As creative work has become more highly valued in the new economy, the dress code has become more open as well. Florida argues that creative people don’t wear uniforms.

This shift has gone from suits and white shirts with ties to more comfortable clothing. The creative economy no longer has one universal dress code. Instead, it has a diversity of dress codes.

The big reason for this new dress code, though, is this: It’s not about people’s appearances, but about the acceptance of difference and diversity in the workplace (what members of the Creative Class are attracted to in the first place). The new dress code has shifted to meet the demands of the Creative Class to work flexibly and express their identities through appearance.

At most startups and small companies in creative centers it’s OK to wear jeans, flip-flops, and a t-shirt. People today have been placing less importance the traditional “suit and professional image” and more importance on the actual work, skills, and talent of creative workers.

New Work Schedule

The No-Collar Workplace also has new schedule and sense of “work time.” The days of following an organizational age of same hours from 9-5 are gone. Industries are now allowing workers to be flexible in both the hours and the days they work. This is due to the fact that members of the Creative Class are attracted to, once again, flexibility as a coveted value in their work.

The flexible schedule is also in response to changing social needs, according to Florida. One example is that more households now have two working parents. Another is based on the very nature of creative work–most would agree that you can’t force creativity to happen between 9-5. Creative work happens in bursts and cycles. Creative professionals seek flexible work schedules that accommodate this.

Examples of this are work schedules that allow people to come in later (say around 10 a.m. so they can sleep in, miss rush-hour traffic or take kids to school) and work later (40% of the workforce in America work after 5 p.m., and 25% works past 6 p.m.). Or people take a mini siesta during the middle of the day with a 2-hour lunch instead of 30 minutes or an hour. Or they have the freedom to have a mid-day workout, work only 4 days in the week, etc.

New Workplace

Offices that embrace the new creative economy and aim to attract the Creative Class have a different look and feel now today than most offices of the past decade.

Florida points out that offices today tend to be more traffic-oriented rather than hierarchical: lots of common spaces with offices opening onto them instead of private offices and rows of standardized and bland cubicles.

An interesting observation that Florida makes is the infinite variations of the new workplace, specifically two major types, suburban and urban. Suburban workplaces model themselves after places like Silicon Valley where your find new architecture and buildings. Some companies even build new, expansive company campuses with its own on-site gym, cafeterias, daycare, etc.

The other type is urban workplaces where you find old architecture. New urban workplaces renovate older buildings in downtown or urban neighborhoods. Both of these two type of workplaces, suburban and urban, tend to create a workplace that embraces openness and communal workplaces, abundant hang out spots, indirect lighting and abundant art and design.

What do you think?

Where does Sacramento stand with the No-Collar Workplace? What’s your experience? Do you work in a No-Collar Workplace? Do you see this shift happening in Sacramento?

Share your thoughts in the comments and then bring them to the discussion next week! Don’t worry if you can’t read the book in time, you can get an overview from our previous blog posts about the book and our take on the Creative Class.  Thursday, 5/31 at 7 p.m. Here at ThinkHouse Collective. 


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