Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > when people come together they can fill a space with their life and energy

when people come together they can fill a space with their life and energy

I’ve written here before about the alleged demise of the office, but the topic has raised its head again this past week so I’m off again.

We earthlings enjoy a fantastic range of communications devices these days, and we’re a couple of generations away from my early days at work where I would carry change to phone in to the office as and when necessary. Now the science fiction of my youth is a reality and I have a few of these devices at my disposal and am a happy, and fairly prolific, user of them.

The ability to keep in touch and to interact with others remotely has changed the way that we work, but that isn’t new; it’s just the natural process of evolution. The pace may vary, but change is constant.

The office as I have known it is a relatively new thing in terms of human history, and it has changed a lot in my time. At the end of the day it is a tool and we will adapt it as we need to. One of the buildings that I once managed is now an easyOffice and part of Stelios’ new venture. It still exists, which is more that can be said for some of the other flagships of my old 1990s empire; one has been demolished and an apartment complex now stands on the site, another has just been demolished and a third has been gutted and the shell absorbed into an industrial building. My team and I used to look after over 3000 people in those three offices and they were all key parts of the organisations that we worked on behalf of.

But we changed them radically over the time that we ran them and had them in a constant state of flux as the tenant businesses needs changed. There may have been an illusion of permanence, but it was only an illusion. The illusion is in the minds of the people though; the building is just a convenient place. Those of us who have managed big workplaces will know how lonely and dead they are when empty.

When people come together they can fill a space with their life and energy, and those provide a synergy that no amount of remote working or cloud collaboration can replace. The challenge for us within the industry is to provide those spaces, but in what form?

I remember the first Regus office locally and being very interested because they were doing on the open market what I was trying to do for an internal market. There was a time when it looked as though they wouldn’t make it, but the financial model has worked and others have followed, as with easyOffice in our old floors at Palmerston House, and all power to them for that.

Coffee bars, hotel lobbies, supermarket cafeterias and motorway services are all playing their part as alternative places to meet, but the thing that intrigues me is that there is still so much focus on city centres. With all of the moves away from pinning us down to the daily grind of going in to the office, most cities are working towards transport and infrastructure plans that are based on sizeable growth over the next 10-30 years. That implies that we will still have these great hives of activity for a long time to come.

Will we push the market, or will the market pull us? I don’t know that I have the answers right now, but it sure is a fascinating time to be in the industry isn’t it?

 

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  1. July 4, 2011 at 8:16 am

    We humans do like to meet. Yes we have phones, letters, email and now video conferencing all at little or no cost but to develop real trust we like to meet from time to time and user these other methods as top ups.

  2. July 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    A great blog John. Thanks. I think we are already pushing the market though. If you define market as ‘our clients’. Over the years we have been integrating people, place and processes and we have come a long way from single service providers to integrated FM and these days business services providers. The next step is the New World of Work. In my home country we experience hospitality management being the driver for this next step. Simply because it is integral and client focused per defintion. And the good thing is that it is almost directly delivering added value to the core business, because the business services are being seen as a marketing/sales tool to connect with external clients. All of this because of some ‘devices’……

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