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Above image: Ansarada Office by Those Architects and End Of Work. Photography: Brett Boardman. Article by Sandra Tan.
“Looking forward, the emphasis will be on fit-for-purpose, customised workplaces, a recognition that one size does not fit all. More importance will be placed on how well people are using new technology, new workplace products and collaborative work practices aimed at driving creative and agile businesses.”
– Niche Media and Gorman/Birrell’s Architecture and Design Forecast
Defining contemporary fitouts over the past few years, the shared office is certainly here to stay, presenting workplace designers and employees alike with the tailored office model of the future.
Today’s workforce travels light, and given the convenience of portable tech, arguably anywhere you can prop up your laptop and tap into steady Wi-Fi constitutes a workstation. With teams across the globe collaborating in the virtual realm as much as in the flesh, the shared office has evolved to become slicker as it cements itself in mainstream consciousness.
Initially emerging as a reaction to real estate affordability, the proven benefit of hot-desking and shared studios is in the opportunity to offer a more social working environment. It is increasingly common for start-ups to eschew the exorbitant costs of a bricks and mortar headquarters for an environment that will stimulate and adapt to their potential for growth. Creative businesses in particular advocate a collective office approach, with one successful example being the City of Sydney’s William Street Creative Hub in Darlinghurst.
In 2012, a progressive design proposal by fledgling practice Andrew Donaldson Architecture and Design secured an affordable office space for themselves and a diverse range of creatives within a disused industrial property, with tenants including influential fashion house Romance was Born and artist Jasper Knight. Such an environment is intended to inspire cross-pollination between co-located businesses, creating a dynamic hub of activity made possible by an upwardly mobile, adaptable workforce.
On the other end of the spectrum, big business, namely global companies such as Microsoft and Google, were early champions of the shared office concept, through in the incorporation of Activity Based Working. This model, designed to easily facilitate group work while encouraging a degree of staff autonomy in the office, was closely followed by the financial sector, with groups such as BankWest, Macquarie Bank, NAB and the Commonwealth Bank all investing in flexible new workspaces.
What these larger scale offices are now observing is the benefit of responsive spaces specifically designed to suit the business in question. Crucially, it is not just the flexibility but the diversity of spaces that contribute to the overall efficacy of the ABW office – balancing open plan workstations with private zones, and ensuring access to green space and breakout areas.
In this way, new office fit-outs endeavour to inspire a healthier lifestyle for staff, with larger design budgets making it possible to create a holistically beneficial work experience, some integrating facilities for exercise and recreation. In the stylish vein of Tom Dixon’s glossy Interchange co-working hub in London, the Forecast predicts an exciting maturation of bespoke offices in coming years, where “we will see a surge in custom-designed co-working spaces,” which will “need to be fully equipped to service the business needs of their clients,” as well as “accommodate a variety of work styles”.
As employees become savvier about the functionality required from their work environment, it is clear that a business that caters to the individual needs of its employees will ultimately optimise staff retention, and encourage greater productivity.
To find out more on the Forecast, visit future.australiandesignreview.com