- More floorplate given over to collaborative work areas.
- More amenities – cafes, restaurants, relaxation and play areas, and ‘outside space’.
- Office density levels counterbalanced by increased amenity space and the needs of core business ‘creatives’
- Flexible accommodation – versatile spaces that can adapt quickly to changing demands.
- User control – increased preference for efficient lighting and heating and sustainable features that contribute to a company’s green credentials.
- New lighting, smaller power – increased use of portable technology may reduce the need to power IT servers and ‘hard- standing’ desk computers, with lighting for the person rather than the tool.
- Shift of spend – less emphasis on Category A and growing focus on Category B and C interior fittings with potential for quick refreshes and restyling to stay ‘on trend’.
- Technology: more cloud and thin client systems, and increased use of personal digital devices means that superfast connectivity for all communication tools is a top priority.
- The popularity of cycling to work means more bike storage, lockers and showering facilities.
- Aesthetics: less concern about exterior appearance, with the focus shifting to interiors, and a preference for a ‘stripped back’ industrial warehouse style to emulate the ‘San-Fran’ look rather than corporate steel and glass
Research work conducted earlier in 2014 by the British Council of Offices into the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector workspaces identified a range of shared general characteristics of offices within the sector, much of which can be seen reflected in the designs of SmartWorkHubs and CoWorking spaces as their design influence spreads, along with the need for rapid reorganisation of the facility floor plate. Work and Place Journal No.4 listed the following, noting many of these can be mapped over the last 20 years to an increasing focus on collaboration that came with the rise of technology influences, shorter leases and workforce churn in a volatile market.
In recent conversations and presentations with groups focussed on boosting the uptake of Telework and Flexible Workplace arrangements, we often see the terms "CoWorking" and "Smart Work Hubs" used interchangeably. Whilst at face glance there are many similarities between the two, there also remain important distinctions between them. In a nutshell, it comes down to the extent of their focus on value creation, either within the facility, or the facility occupants community.
To differentiate from routine commercial real estate offerings, both need to create value but each go about it in a different way.
With a long background in conducting detailed workplace assessments as part of our Empowering Business Wellbeing services, we tend to take a fairly close look at the visible facility (what we can see and touch, or the facility hardware) and the underlying (less visible) elements of a workspace (culture, strategy, demography, human factors, acoustics, messaging architecture). These are important contributors to business value and the business ecosystem that operates within a physical space.
With a current NSW Government Smart Work Hub Pilot actively underway, creating value for NSW communities with the introduction of Smart Work Hubs to act as an intermediate space between Work + Home based workplaces, there is a Corporate Real Estate disruption and renewal pattern at work, seeking to create meaningful solutions to a range of business pressures.
These are what we see and experience as the Top 3 Differences:
Here's our take on the Top 3 Similarities:
This is not about managing facilities. This is about enabling communities. And as far as I am concerned, that is an aspiration a world away from our current collective capability; from any perspective. The greatest productivity measure of all? Perhaps it’s the smiles on people’s faces.
Alexi Marmot observed that the Great Place to Work® Institute recognises pride, camaraderie, credibility, respect and fairness as key attributes to the very best workplaces they are aware of. What of the role of physical space then in this complex socio-spatial milieu? Hints toward an answer might lie in the ‘equation’:
1. Ian Ellison, providing an Event Review of 2014 IFMA Workplace Strategy Summit, in Work and Place Journal #4, p4; http://workplaceinsight.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Work+Place4mje.pdf
2. Ibid, p5;
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