I have knicked that title from a seminar I attended on 14th August. Herman Miller, a company whose primary function is the manufacture of office furniture was selling a vision of a future without the need for offices. A seminar that seemed to take perverse glee at the concept of the speaker’s own redundancy is actually an interesting way to spend lunchtime.
Except no, offices would still exist just as a member of the wider genre of legitimised meeting spaces. It’s easy to get carried away with the idea that offices are a thing of the past. There seems to be the assumption that doing away with offices means to reduce everyone to islands. It’s simply the case that office spaces are in the embryonic stages and no one can really see how they are going to progress beyond the decade.
In the 1980s you had a rolodex and a dictionary as part of the primary office equipment. The standard issue today is a monitor and a printer, so technological developments will be the main thrust of change within the working environment.
The speaker actually referenced WeWork and proposed that they were at the forefront of future of working spaces. We will do another article soon on how you can feng shui your work environment. It’s all about the manipulation of space of light to boost productivity, something Herman Miller knows all about.
However despite communal work spaces being seen as the wave of the future the seminar was mostly a very human affair. It concerned people’s need to be part of something larger than themselves and human being’s categorisation as social creatures and thus working from home or working remotely can often make one feel disconnected with no sense of purpose.
To collaborate face to face with colleagues is often a component part to seeing the vision of what you are working on realised. Many people need to see the workings of their friends to inspire them to work as well. It’s rewarding to be in an environment which values your work. Working alone leaves you lonely, to be frank.
The speaker then proceeded to make us interact with one another, talking about anything but work. The seminar’s agenda, if it really had one, was to blur the line between labour and leisure. Collaboration and success is usually down to correct communicative procedure and doesn’t necessarily mean stripping away home comforts to make work, work.
Working spaces need to be fluid and agile, with opportunities to stop and start at one’s own pace. However, it’s difficult for one to measure how productive they are being without a colleague there to compare themselves too. You need to know where everyone is in the working day, not just you. Emails and Skype work now and then but often is less efficient than a face to face dialogue when trying to get things done.
The office isn’t dead just yet but the traditional ideas of what constitutes an office are dying, mainly because historically man’s workspace has to change with the times or be left behind. Maybe millions of electronic Alexas dictating our email accounts while we all sit with our feet up is the future but no one can deny the physical workplace has to be somewhere and our colleagues have to feature in some capacity. Even those who work better with no distractions, work is always going to be a collaboration even for the lone wolves.