The future is now
Space&Co.’s live panel event explored the workplace of the future and dug deep into the value proposition of the office.
Insights blog – September 2020
National Director, Flexible Workspace Solutions, The GPT Group
Flexibility and connectivity is here to stay
The workplace as we knew it disappeared almost overnight. One day we were commuting to CBDs in our corporate wear, the next we were business on top / loungewear on the bottom from our makeshift home office. What looked initially to be a temporary location adjustment has now turned into a longer-term proposition.
Gone are the days of Mad Men-style workplaces featuring a central typing pool ringed by Account Manager offices. We have evolved too, from the late 20th century cubicle model that concentrated workers to a more open office fitout.
So why does this current evolution feel so different?
Historically, many changes have been led by technology; today’s changes are enabled by it.
If you joined me for Space&Co.’s Comm.Unity live panel event where we explored the ‘workplace of the future’ you know we dug deep into the value proposition of the workplace - today and tomorrow.
We are hearing from members - and saying the same ourselves as employees - that we very much want a workplace outside of our home. We want a space to gather and collaborate. We feel the need to congregate in order to teach and learn. We are missing those unplanned hallway chats and informal coffee catch ups.
Mark Mitchell, Workplace Director at EY, and fellow panelist at the Comm.Unity event, observed the void in learning and development many organisations are experiencing during this time away from the communal office. He asked, “How do I learn about a new deal or partnership, as an example? I learn from what I hear. I can’t just schedule that in. But if we’re in the office together, we might chat about it over a coffee or while grabbing a sandwich for lunch.”
Mark is absolutely right. We are able to schedule in collaboration, but can we spontaneously mingle? Profound insights can arise in those unplanned moments. Learning from one another in person is easier for many of us. Those incidental contacts are key to collaboration, innovation and avoiding a silo mentality.
That got me thinking, too, about the value of the workplace as an enabler of connection, and where we go next.
We had a tendency to consider the office as where the ‘real work’ got done and wonder what those working from home were really up to. The acceleration of accepting flexible ways of working will continue to propel us forward - if we know how to make the most of it.
Workplace 2.0 must be flexible, adaptable and enable connection. Your communal kitchen seating area can double as a comfortable all-staff gathering area for important firm-wide meetings; and later that week it can become an event studio for hosting a virtual session. Larger open spaces will become changeable hubs for collaboration.
The new workplace can now shed its rigidity. And the formal workplace should foster an environment for generating new ideas together, learning, teaching and connecting.
From there, many teams will find individual solutions - some will work from home or a hyper local hub in their neighbourhood; some will choose the workplace - for focused work time. The doing following the ideating.
We have been granted this location flexibility thanks to rapid tech advances. Toting a laptop to and from can be done in as little as 900grams. No more discs, papers, folders or clunky hardware. Our files are all stored on the cloud and accessible from anywhere with internet capability. In many cases, we have more power in our pocket than even in our laptop.
An informal survey from the Comm.Unity panel showed that employees are eager to return to an office - it is no longer a case of if they’ll return but when they’ll return. And this return is not coming from the top-down. We are all eager to return to those collaboration spaces and to reconnect.
It is very exciting to think about this hybrid working model and know that Space&Co. is already providing our members much of this flexibility and space for collaboration.
Want to learn more? Please reach out to me or the team if you would like to explore what Space&Co. can offer your organisation.