The future of workplaces – what’s going to happen next?
Steve Coster, Head of Knowledge and Sustainability at HASSELL, was one of the presenters at the Workplaces of the Future Summit hosted this week in Melbourne by the Green Building Council of Australia. He spoke about where the current changes in technology, workplace behaviours and the uptake of free-range working (or activity-based working) are leading workplace design – what’s in store next?
"We're now reaching a point where organisations can become so flexible - so dynamic - that their internal structures become more fluid and their borders become less fixed," said Steve. The uptake of flexible working, teleworking and co-working means that the office takes on many forms and is a series of nodes in a network of places across the city, rather than a ‘container’ for an organisation. These issues make design more critical than ever in creating places that people want to use to work effectively – especially for working that requires bringing people together.
Learning environments, student hubs, libraries and co-working spaces are now more relevant reference points for leading workplace design than traditional workplaces. One workplace that demonstrates these drivers is Hub Melbourne – a co-working community that blurs the traditional organisational boundaries to foster innovation through collaboration. Hub Melbourne provides a shared workplace for a range of diverse, independent member organisations who want to come together for the opportunities, skills and resources, and referrals that exist among the member community.
"Co-working is an emerging phenomenon that raises new issues and opportunities for organisations - issues that are also present for traditional workplaces but are taken to the next level in co-working settings. It is a window into a way of working that is likely to be more mainstream in future. One key issue is the importance of creating an authentic and meaningful environment where people gather because they want to - not because they have to," said Steve in his presentation at the Summit.
Other key aspects of co-working communities that are relevant to workplaces of the future include much greater intensity of usage and diversity of workspaces – more extreme choices of settings for different activities, and more immediately adjacent activities. Also critical is the degree of self-organisation – the ability for the users to move and reconfigure the space at the speed of their dynamic business. Of course. the integration of fundamental wireless technology networks and special pieces of high-specification technologies for members to share gives them access to possibilities they wouldn't otherwise have.
Steve and Hub Melbourne also featured in Australian business publication BRW this week as part of an article on collaborative work spaces, which looked at the death of the permanent desk and the more frugal use of space within offices.
Read the full article in BRW here
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