Words, Alison White, PLACEmaking
Rapid and continuous change in the way we need and want to work conflicts head-on with most traditional workplace solutions out there right now.
Change in the property market is slow to respond to how many businesses operate today, with flexible contracts and varying head-counts. Why? Well the property market assumes ‘quirky’ offices are a fashion statement relevant primarily to the tech industry and concentrated in a few hot spots like East London’s Tech City.
What's more, advice on what to build to satisfy the rental market is dominated by traditional valuation based assessment by men in blue suits using formulas that are as much out of date as their choice of uniform.
Price per square foot returns has led to the architectural world producing office buildings that neither aspire or inspire. Indeed, aside from fancy external cladding on the odd crazy high rise, their role appears to be limited to conspiring with the construction industry to produce bland and predictably soulless buildings. The experience of working in such office buildings is not improved by funky reception furniture and free tea and coffee either. Comparing images recording the transitional stages of offices over the last 100 years raises the question: how much better is the experience today?
Sure there are organisations that want big and bland and predictable, but there are many other businesses that are waking up to the need for better ideas to invest their precious resources in - solutions that will keep pace with their changing needs as they become more reliant on freelancers and less able to predict how many ‘desks’ they need in advance. Aside from the big players that aspire to securing that number 1 building position on important city streets, who really needs a postal address anymore and who wants a conventional office building anyway?
Well, quite a few people as it turns out. While working from home has its benefits, for some the honeymoon of not having to commute can wear off, and in some cases freelancers and contractors are needed onsite most days. So there will always be a need for workspaces, just in different forms. But what makes an office or a coworking space attractive enough to seduce freelancers and contractors from the comfort of their own homes or cosy coffee-shops where they can happily function all day, every day?
Put simply, somewhere where you want to be more than the other choices available. A top workspace and workplace is...
1) Modern and attractive and reinforces a culture of shared aspirations and objectives
2) A place that enhances joy as a reward for achievement
3) A place that values learning, enriches knowledge and skills development
4) A welcoming place that celebrates the value of collective as well as individual contribution
5) A place that includes facilities and assets that directly enhances individual and team performance, reinforcing self worth and valuing collaboration
6) A place that connects people: facilitating and enabling them to focus on delivering the organisation shared commitments and aims
7) An environment that welcomes creativity, innovation, interaction and collaboration
8) A place with character, designed with eclectic mixture of diverse style and choice
9) Choice of a mixed range of work settings: from quiet and contemplative though to buzzing and stimulating
10) Enabled with relevant technology – functionally intuitive, user led simplicity that’s thoughtfully provided, managed and maintained by people who don’t ‘techno-speak’
11) A place that is serviced and managed to meet its ‘consumers’ needs, not just support services low cost convenience
12) A place that doesn’t impose the corporate brand and allocate space by hierarchy or seniority
13) A place that is confident enough in its values that it encourages curiosity, evolution and participation.