1 May 2013 — Workplace is not about space, it’s about people and the making of “place”, says BVN Donovan Hill principal Bill Dowzer in the introduction of the online publication, Transformative: the architecture of work culture.

“New models of space generate from the collaboration of organisations and individuals aspiring to explore the changing cultural landscape of work,” Mr Dowzer says.

“An authentic approach to workplace design makes for corporate transformation which can only come about through the passion and dedication of people.

“Workplace is not about space, it’s about people and the making of ‘place’.

“This publication offers an opportunity to create a dialogue around new models of working, co-location, utilisation and metrics, and is the result of our continuing research in this sector.”

There is also an insight into a conversation between work culture strategist Rosemary Kirkby and BVN Donovan Hill’s national director James Grose that explores the issues confronted in the reworking of Campus MLC.

Ms Kirkby, previously head of sustainability at GPT, has long championed a shift from open-plan workplaces to free-desking or activity-based working

That’s unassigned desks without paper and wires – with meeting rooms to hold from two to six to more. And GPT’s Sydney’s MLC Centre moved to the new look a year ago with Ms Kirkby now very happily sharing office space.

And moving further ahead, to the future workspace, Collaborative Consumption’s chief knowledge officer Lauren Anderson says a lot can happen in 20 years.

“There is no doubt the worker of 1992 would be amazed at the office environment of 2012.

“Emerging from an era of top-down authority, cubicles and inflexible office hours, today’s open-plan workplaces, where management sits among staff and computing devices are ubiquitous, would no doubt look like something out of science fiction.

“But with the ever-increasing rate of technological innovation and societal change, anything is possible in the workplace of 2032. Despite this unpredictability, however, several factors give us a sense of the trajectory we are on and where we might end up in 20 years’ time, with a future that is more collaborative, flexible and connected than ever before.”

The Freelance Economy

“Today, independent contractors make up almost nine per cent of Australia’s working population – a trend that emerged in 2008 as a response to instability from the post-financial crisis, a trend that continues to grow,” Ms Anderson says.

“People are looking for increased control and flexibility in their working lives, and are rejecting traditional employment. Over time, this will have an impact on the way companies, particularly small-to-medium enterprises, are built.

“In 2032, companies will comprise small core teams, supported by a larger contractor team that increases and decreases depending on resourcing needs and availability. Freelance contractors are free to shape their own workload and balance diverse clients. As well as being positive for companies, they are able to reduce their overheads and resource projects more efficiently.”

A Network of Spaces

“With the changing composition of companies, workspaces will need to adapt to suit teams that expand and contract in response to project workloads. Fixed office spaces and high infrastructure costs will not make sense in the constantly evolving workplace of 2032.

“Instead, businesses will have central hubs where their core team is located most of the time, with multiple companies sharing a single floor to maximise use of space and allow for fluctuating team numbers. The latest in digital security technologies will reduce concerns about exposing confidential materials, and workplace design will ensure optimal levels of privacy while preserving the benefits of an open-plan collaborative environment.

“To supplement these central hubs, there will be a distributed network of co-working spaces through city fringe and regional areas to accommodate the needs of the freelance workforce. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of co-working spaces in Australia increased by 156 per cent compared to 93 per cent growth worldwide .

“By 2032, all major cities and towns will have co-working spaces, supporting urban renewal in response to the resurgence of local commerce and changing transportation needs of largely car-free communities.”

Collaborative Technologies

“Driving this shift towards flexibility, remote work and independent lifestyles is the proliferation of social technologies; moving from a focus on our personal lives to becoming fundamentally important in our professional lives. After reaching a tipping point in 2014, enterprise social networks will underpin almost all business communication in the workplace of 2032, enabling remote workers to be even more effective and increasing the efficiency of face-to-face meetings.

“Real-time and location-based technologies will facilitate the outsourcing of tasks from administration to design to physical labour , further supporting the evolution of the freelance workforce. Cloud services will be the default storage and software solution for most companies, further reducing the physical infrastructure needed to run a business and enabling organisations to remain up-to-date with the latest technologies rather than investing in systems that become quickly outdated.”

Produced by BVN Donovan Hill, Transformative: the architecture of work culture can be viewed at www.bvntransformative.com