Work is something you do, not somewhere you go. Now that we have the technology to work anywhere, a workplace must offer more than just a room in which to work; it must provide an experiential richness that the digital world is unable to replace or circumvent. The workplace must become an attractor to draw people together and facilitate the social and creative interactions that lead to innovation.
Below are four key attributes of the future workplace, which describe a point of departure from which we can explore how ‘work’ will evolve:
Successful workplaces are engaging, in a physical and a social sense because they facilitate the planned and serendipitous interactions that foster creativity and innovation. We help this to happen by designing a kind of convergent space that blurs and mixes different uses together.
Two in five workers in the UK workers spend at least half a day a week working flexibly; from a coffee shop, at home or on the move. We can see and begin to comprehend a trend towards the convergence of traditionally separate spaces that are expanding and overlapping as we learn to work in richer and more complex ways. Why not combine shops and offices, or café and hotel, or work, life and event to fit our mobile urban lives.
Fifty percent of our waking hours are spent at work so we need workspace that supports our mental, and physical wellbeing. Business that supports a culture of good health (‘wellness’) dramatically increase employee engagement and productivity. For too long, the approach has been to minimise the negative effects of work, but the future workplace needs to be active in support of mind and body.
Workplace buildings should provide bespoke, flexible space that can respond rapidly to the shifting occupancies and way of working the future demands.
New buildings will adopt light, tight and integrated envelopes with movable cores, and open floors. As for existing building stock, rapid technological change by no means signals its redundancy. Workplace will no longer rely on fixed infrastructure (raised access floors, desktop workstations, landlines, etc) and uses wireless data and power, to liberate office floors from static layouts to allow endless adaptive reconfiguration. The infrastructure of the modern office has a minimal physical footprint that can be woven into the fabric of the city allowing historic beauty to blend seamlessly with the data performance demands of tomorrow.
With economic uncertainty tenants prioritise flexibility over cost, which leads us to more creative leasing and tenancy arrangements. Larger companies can house incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces, to simultaneously market their services and scout for talent. The combination of flexible buildings and agile leasing will allow companies to expand and contract without changing their workspace provider. No longer bound to a single space, the workplace can expand to different sites across a campus, neighbourhood or an entire city.
These speculations above are to open a discussion about the future of work. We seek to provoke more questions than we alone can answer so that we pursue these avenues of research in collaboration with all the creative industries.
Watch this space.