The nature of work and what we consider to be a workplace has undergone a “huge metamorphosis in the last 15 years”, says Chris Kane, chief executive of BBC Commercial Projects and chair of the British Institute of Facility Management’s (BIFM) Futures Group.
“Work is changing, from being binary – being tethered to one particular desk – to working anywhere at any time,” he says. So how are workspaces going to evolve to reflect this?
For Tom Ball, chief executive of NearDesk, co-working spaces are the answer. “Early users of co-working – those who adopted the ‘work anywhere’ attitude – were freelancers,” he says. “Now it’s a practice being used by a much wider range of employers.”
Ball says this shift is down to increasingly lengthy and expensive commutes. A report by Randstad that analysed the commuting patterns of 2,000 workers between 2008 and 2013 found that almost one in 10 respondents are now travelling for more than three hours a day.
Kane agrees that workers’ attitude to travel and the fabled work-life balance is recalibrating. “I suspect that everyone in the workforce is thinking: ‘do I really need to get on that train to go to work every day, when it’s expensive and busy? Do I want to be away from my family that much?’”
“Work used to be the be all and end all,” he says. “You needed a job for life. Those days are gone.”
Although data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that of the 30.2 million people working in the UK between January and March 2014, 4.2 million spent at least half of their working hours at home, many employees have no choice over when and where they work.
“We must not forget that not everyone can work from a coffee shop,” cautions organisational design consultant David D’Souza. “When I’m sitting in Starbucks working on a project, someone is there serving my coffee with no choice over when or where they work.”
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