The very way in which we work has changed overnight, the pandemic has transformed large parts of the centralised office based workforce to a dispersed homeworking society, and the effects of this are likely to last. What does this mean for the structure of companies, and what they require from offices in the future?
Technology offers autonomy, allowing anyone to work remotely anywhere, and the implementation of 5G technology will reinforce this. Individual ‘computer based’ focused working may well take place in the home setting, so we must consider what becomes of the traditional commercial office building.
Whilst homeworking offers many benefits it also has some major disadvantages, dependent on your circumstances and if you have the space it can be great for focused tasks. You can work without interruption, surrounded by all the comforts of a home office tailored to your specific requirements. But this is not universal, and conversely sharing a dining table with partners and young children can be very disruptive. However we can see that this shift to a homeworking lifestyle has been embraced by the majority of those who can do it, so what becomes of our offices, and what do we need from them in the future?
Collaboration, face-to-face contact and human social interaction are awkward and limited over the computer or phone screen. Fluid meetings where multiple items can be discussed in a freeform manner, splitting away from the primary topic and rejoining with new ideas, can be very difficult over networking software. Our buildings need to fulfil that role and become places for human cooperation, and forums for creative collaboration, each one a crucible for a specific field of exploration and discovery.
The new organisational ‘system’ of a company can be seen as a central core around which homeworkers orbit, connected together by a web of powerful IT. Between the core and the home-workers specific groups connect the two, managing Accounts, Technology, Human resources and the like.