WILL THE WORLD GO BACK TO WORKING AT OFFICES?
Much has been written over these past months about the future of work and the office as we know it. Invariably, the global pandemic that we have experienced has made us all think deeper about the ways in which we do many things, not the least of which is how we work.
Interestingly, the dynamics of how people want to work have been changing for a while now, but were drastically accelerated when the virus emerged. Technology has been the big disruptor, allowing always on connection from anywhere in the world – creating opportunities for businesses to expand their hiring scope and workers the flexibility to work from anywhere. Though what we have seen up to this point is a tension between the flexibility of fully remote work environments and the synergistic effects of proximity. Major technology firms were building big offices to bring their teams together all the while offering flexible schedules and remote options. Other more traditional industries had been dabbling in flexibility and remote options, but had yet to adopt these at scale.
All at once, every employee was remote. Every business had to discover ways to keep their employees engaged and effective while working from their homes. Technologies to facilitate this type of work exploded as Zoom, Slack, Teams and other tools embedded themselves in the everyday work (and personal) lives of basically the entire world.
Initially, the feedback from workers was positive. People were enjoying newfound flexibility and extra time that had previously been spent commuting. Businesses (and their CFOs) discovered that there was little drop off in productivity and began plotting the end of the corporate office as we knew it, vowing to go completely distributed and remote.
It wasn’t long however before the enthusiasm for working from home became cries for help. A number of factors inevitably make working from home a challenge – children in the house, a partner or flat-mate also trying to work, limited space, and not the least of which is very limited interpersonal interaction. Additionally, much has been written on how culture is a differentiating factor for many companies and organisations, but how will such an organisation build their culture without being together?
It seems the things that we must avoid during a pandemic are the very things that make us human and keep us going as social creatures.
So what shall we do?
Long before this current pandemic, our thesis was that there was a gap in the market. The initial wave of coworking began to step into and try to solve some of the needs of the modern worker. Born in recession, coworking helped newly freelance and untethered workers find a semblance of community without being attached to a single company. Concentrated in the central business districts of most cities, these coworking spaces offered functionally distributed workers to solve for a loneliness problem and a human interaction void. The thing it didn’t initially solve for was physical distribution. Workers don’t just live in the central city. For many, still having to commute to the city to work, even in a coworking space built on the precept of “community”, was a major hurdle.
Ways of working will continue to change. What we know is true is that distributed and remote access allows for resiliency within organisations and opportunities for workers not physically located where their company is headquartered. We also know that human beings need to be around people – that the creativity and vitality of individuals is multiplied when proximity and community exist. We’ve created GOOD SPACE to operate in this gap. A space for remote workers to find community, interact with people, and experience the boost in productivity that can bring. A place located in the neighbourhood to help solve for the geographical and proximal challenges faced by people that don’t live near their company’s office.
People have short memories. Companies will again build big offices and try to find ways to bring their teams together physically. But people will also always live in places that aren’t close to that office and will desire a way to work that fits their unique needs and offers them the flexibility of working from home, but the productivity and energy of working with and around others. If you live within walking distance to Queen’s Park in London, GOOD SPACE may just be that place.