Rethinking the office: How our office lives are changing
It’s a place that we spend a great deal of time in, but the experience of being at ‘work’ can be very different across Australia (and the world). The humble office space varies so much that it can also have a pretty dramatic affect on the way you work.
In the 50 years or so since the modern office space entered our working lives, a lot has changed. With our demographics shifting again…what’s in store for your office of the future? And how will technology change it?
Open plan and activity trends
For most of us, open plan is the most common form of office layout today. It was thought that open plan would break down silos, making it easier to communicate and therefore achieve more. It’s debatable whether open plan has really had the impact that it sought to achieve. In our office, which is primarily open plan, if the entire team is in the office at the one time (we have sales and tech teams who are primarily on the road), it can be pretty noisy. I’m sure if I asked the team I’d get a 50/50 split on whether they find it productive or not.
In recent times we’ve seen the rise of activity based working i.e. offices with different types of workspaces based on the type of work you’re doing. This also has its benefits and I can see why it’s popular. Especially in major cities, activity based working has led to a trend of workspaces that are more like upmarket bars or health clubs than a place of work! Your work environment can even be referenced as a reason why someone would work in your business: Is your office ‘cool’ enough?
Remote working and hubs
Now, with technology, were working more and more remotely. As digital goes through the process of transforming business, more and more of us will work outside the standard office building.
Remote working is all the rage. Whether it’s mobile working, or simply the new office favourite of ‘working from home’, the concept of sitting in an office from 9-5 is something that many businesses are turning away from. If I think about my business, a lot of our team spend a good portion of their time on the road, so mobility is important. Ultimately, do you care where the work is getting done, or just that it is done?
The next leap forward will be working ‘hubs’. These are already running in cities around the world, including here. The concept of a hub is all about reducing travel time, while still giving employees a place to go for work. For example, say you lived in the Blue Mountains, and your employer’s main office is in the city. Rather than working from home in isolation all the time, imagine you had an office in Penrith, where employees from across the company can work, and still have access to all the technology they’d need/have at HQ? That’s what hubs bring. They enable you to still go to work and interact with colleagues, just without the commute.
For many roles, office hubs are already becoming a reality. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that places like Bathurst or Orange could have a hub, enabling people to live in the Central West but still take roles in the city. Technology will let that happen.
Technology will make it happen
The key to all this is using the right technology to make it happen. For example, making sure that you have information available to you on a convenient platform, where ever you are, so that you can do your job effectively.
Make sure you set your workplace up with options. Some people like social interaction, while others prefer an environment that lets them concentrate. In the end, you want the right result for the business and there doesn’t have to be a ‘you must work here and in this fashion’ type mentality.
Think about what works best for you and your people, and then match it with the technology to make it happen.
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