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41% of people who work remotely don’t feel connected to their colleagues. Source: McKensey Survey

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56% of people who don’t usually work remotely feel more productive when working from home than when working from the office. Source: Jabra Global Survey

The Future of Offices

We have to accept that the way we live and work has changed forever because of Covid-19.

If the pandemic had happened just 15 years ago, we wouldn’t now be facing a brutal global economic crisis like the one we’re experiencing now: we’d be facing the end of civilization as we know it. Technological advances at home and at work have saved us from a total worldwide collapse, and the way we use technology is going to be vital to an understanding of our future.

With regard to offices, the question we professionals are asking is how spaces need to evolve to adapt to a new, almost certainly hybrid, manner of working. We’re at the start of a revolution comparable to that experienced in the education sector, which has moved on from its Victorian legacy and is now exploring the possibilities of spaces that stimulate creativity, collaboration, and development. The same thing is going to happen with workspaces.

It’s no longer going to make sense to travel to an office each day to work alone there, because that can be done from home, from a cafeteria or from a public library. Offices won’t need to be sterile spaces with long rows of desks and a computer for each worker. However, going in to the office will still be very necessary for one  important purpose: teamwork.1 Here I’m talking about flexible spaces with plug-and-play technology, where work teams can meet and share what each member has been doing individually. It’s been extensively proven that group activities speed up innovation and creation. Team sessions will be organised to dynamize processes and the groups will then split up so that each team member can continue remotely with their own individual activities.2

For this to be possible, technology is crucial. For example, we need to design hybrid spaces where open work meetings can be held with the participation of people who are physically present in the room and people in other locations who are attending virtually by internet.

This new way of working, which is much more agile, will have a positive effect on companies, workers, and cities.

It’ll benefit companies because the disappearance of physical barriers will make it possible to work anywhere in the world and have meetings with customers and partners without needing to travel. Also, since it won’t be necessary to travel to a central office each day, companies will be able to recruit talent from anywhere on the planet—thus boosting their competitiveness.

Workers will benefit because their quality of life will be improved. In the big cities of Europe, people spend an average of 84 minutes a day commuting to work. Not having to do that each day means not only saving money but also gaining more personal time. Workers won’t need to live near their offices but will be able to extend the radius of residence and move to places that are more convenient for family or economic reasons.

With respect to cities, fewer daily commuting trips means less pollution, less space for cars and more space for people. And that means the resurgence of local business. It will also revitalise the financial zones in cities, where more dwellings and mixed-use buildings will be built, and the night-time “ghost town centre” effect—a legacy of American metropolises that has spread to all big cities—will thus be avoided.

We should embrace these changes. As designers, we have a new world before us which we can and must transform. Let’s seize that opportunity.


Author: Carlos Muriel, architect and associate director at Atkins Global in London. Two great passions: people and architecture. In that order.


Text translated by Andrew V.Taylor
Notas de página
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41% of people who work remotely don’t feel connected to their colleagues. Source: McKensey Survey

2

56% of people who don’t usually work remotely feel more productive when working from home than when working from the office. Source: Jabra Global Survey

Autor:
La Fundación Caja de Arquitectos se constituye como Fundación cultural privada el 23 de Mayo de 1990, con el objetivo de promover y fomentar fines de carácter cultural, social, asistencial, profesional y formativo en el campo de la arquitectura, la construcción, el diseño, el urbanismo y, en general, de todo aquello relacionado con la actividad de los arquitectos.

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