Increasing numbers of people are working remotely, and for those that do return to working from an office again, the office they return to is expected to look very different from the one they left.
Time spent away from our offices, has given both employers and employees an opportunity to rethink how offices look, work, and are used. Many of these changes will be for the better, with flexibility being the word de jour, in terms of how offices are designed and work moving forward. This flexibility encompasses not only how these offices are used (with many people returning to hybrid word arrangements: some days working from home, some days in the office), but will also understand the need for offices to be able to be redesigned each and every day. This concept, known as agile working, means furniture and fittings that can be moved around, it means different spaces for different tasks: the purposeful design of quiet spaces, of spaces for cooperation, of separate spaces for exercise.
Conventional offices will become more agile. Image by Israel Andrade.
Allowing people more control over their office, in much the same way they have complete control over their home offices or working spaces, is expected to be a guiding principle. The first priority for many organisations right now is how they can return people, if necessary, to work safely. The next step, beyond this, is to think more about bridging the gap between remote work, and office work, allowing for a convergence of the benefits of both.
Hand in hand with this there will also be an increased demand for co-working spaces. For many companies, the maintenance of a permanent, traditional office has been made redundant, and not necessarily crucial to the running of their business. This means a demand for flexible, professional spaces for people to work, and co-working spaces meet this need perfectly.
Many co-working spaces have flexible membership programs, allowing people to balance working remotely and from a permanent office. Some even welcome whole organisations, and are able to manage large groups of people.
There will be increase in demand for co-working spaces. Image by Tim Van Der Kuip.
Co-working spaces are a great compromise between the challenges of working from home, and the need to travel into a set office everyday. Employees are able to choose co-working spaces closest to them, or one which matches their vibe or style of work. Many are hives of cooperation, innovation and sharing, and operate similar to traditional offices, allowing people to engage and connect.
What co-working spaces also often get right is that they understand the need for working spaces that provide more than just a desk and a space to work in. Beyond the chance to connect with others, they also offer experiences- whether through places to sit and relax during the day, or with other facilities and amenities for their workers, from gyms to bars, and clubhouses. Incorporating communal spaces within working spaces, meets the demands of a growing number of younger employees who are demanding a better work-life balance, and work spaces that meet their own lifestyle choices and interests. This moves them beyond simply adding a great coffee machine, to so much more.
Some co-working spaces are taking this one step further with the addition of vital services, including child care centres and nurseries. Others are being built within residential complexes, allowing people to work where they live, without working from home. So there is still a clear separation between where work happens, and where we live, but there are no unnecessary commutes, for example.
There is a problem with our traditional offices. Global pandemic aside, we are facing a growing demand for better working spaces. Co-working spaces developed, in part, from a need for a better way to work. Traditional offices are often too loud, are badly designed, do not account for a need to get people away from their desks and and moving, for at least part of the day, and are not helping people reach maximum productivity.
When we spend so much of our time at work, offices that are purposeful are fast becoming the standard. A new generation of younger workers are demanding more from their working spaces, and while it might take time for organisations to catch up with this demand, co-working spaces have the flexibility to be able to adapt faster to changing needs from workers.
There is more demand from the working space to be more purposeful. Image by Green Chameleon.
The future of offices started to look very different, even before the events of 2020 which sent many people home to work. However it has created the perfect opportunity to rethink not only offices, but how we all work as well.
At Vonder we have always understood the importance of quality co-working spaces. Many of our co-living complexes include co-working spaces for our residents. We also understand that more and more people are working from home, and our private flats and apartments are designed with spaces for people to build their own working space.