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The Evolving Workspace

The workspace is a complex environment and is unique to each organisation

Earlier this week we attended an informative session on Building the Ultimate Creative Workspace at Rise, Barclays’ Fintech accelerator in Hackney.

Chaired by Tuukka Tovoinen, an expert in community creativity at University College London, the session brought together GoSpace’s lead workspace consultant Neil Usher, Futurist Amelia Kallman and Hannah Gibbs, Head of Membership and Community at The Conduit, London’s first members club seeking to connect socially and environmentally aware investors, businesses and stakeholders.

Neil’s talk focused on the common imbalances in workspace design and team management today. He challenged the current prevalent thinking, primarily among organisations which champion a distributed workforce, to treat each team member as a completely self-governing economic actor that can work from any place at any time, infrequently needing to interact in-person with colleagues to share ideas and build relationships.

Another theme was the tendency of corporates to home in on effect rather than cause. To illustrate he cited those businesses exclusively investing in wellbeing programmes for employees, rather than think more critically to get upstream and tackle the negative cultural norms which may contribute to feelings of team stress or un-wellness in the first instance.

Amelia’s short talk spotlighted technologies impacting the workspace of future. The usual suspects AI, AR and mixed reality, natural language processing and biometrics were all mentioned along with the workforce opportunities presented by the internet of things to enterprise level businesses.

Perhaps the most interesting chapter of the session was the heated debate around the ultimate effectiveness of co-working in productivity terms. The general consensus from the audience was that co and flexible working spaces positively facilitate networking opportunities, but generally speaking can have a detrimental affect on quality and quantity of output, with many co-working regulars stating during the interactive panel that when they use flex space, they often went home to ‘work’ after a day catching up with collaborators and contacts.

At Navana, our view is that defining the optimum workspace requirements for an organisational is a complex issue. We believe that our team members need access to different workspaces for their changing needs, and these needs can change on an hourly basis as our people move from focused working time, ideas sessions, and client meetings.

We are currently applying this thinking to our current office re-design, as well as considering what third-party space our teams should have access to let their creativity and productivity flourish. Watch this space for more.