Over the past few years, it's become increasingly common for people to work from home, or in flexible, collaborative work spaces.
Third Spaces Group has released a White Paper exploring this movement, which they call 'Liberated Work'. The company is dedicated to driving this style of work in Australia by establishing coworking spaces such as Hub Australia and smart work hubs for small businesses and corporate Australia through Active8.
Third Spaces CEO and Founder, and co-author of the Liberated White paper, Brad Krauskopf, discussed the future of the workplace with The Urban Developer.
Can you tell explain what the Liberated Work movement is?
Liberated Work is our term used to describe the flexible, distributed and collaborated way that we see people are going to be working in the future.
The ways that we are seeing that manifest now in terms of people working - the consumer is going to be choosing where they work, when they work and with whom they work. Am I going to work from home, in a work hub or in a Central Office? It will depend on the work they are doing at the time. We’re also putting it out there we’re going to see the consumerisation of the workplace, whether it’s smart work hubs like CoActive8, or a coworking place like Hub Australia.
What are the benefits for employers and employees?
For the employee, there’s more productivity and more ability to control how you work. There are also health and wellness benefits. We’ve seen the huge costs of congestion in the terms of its wellbeing on people. The cost of when people are spending time away from their families when they’re travelling in a car.
For the employee, greater productivity and the ability to attract and retain the best talent. I don’t necessary think we’re going to see a reduction in the costs of the workplace, but a reallocation where a lot more of that cost will be able to be incurred when there is demand and there are projects.
At the moment, businesses sign up to long leases in big spaces because they need allow for the different fluctuations in their demand. In the future, they will be able to take up half of that space and ramp up as their business conditions allow.
What are the disadvantages of a traditional 9am-5pm workplace?
It’s more difficult to bring people into those central locations nowadays. All of our cities are growing. It’s not necessary and it’s also costly to bring them into that location. Let’s just bring them in when they can do that high value work; let’s make sure that the work that they do there is collaborative, learning type work that is better done together.
How do you think the traditional office will evolve and what will it look like?
We see that the traditional workplace will still be there, but it might have a café and an innovation lab. We will see a lot more shared space - you might see more meeting rooms and coworking spaces. The central office will be a communication tool to connecting offices to innovation and new learning opportunities. Operators, such as CoActive8, will manage them. We’ve already seen this happening with 1 O’Connell Street in the middle of Sydney and Space & Co in Melbourne.
How do you think the Liberated Work movement will impact the property industry and how new buildings are designed?
We’re going to need to design our workforces to be significantly more malleable and flexible to what will be a permanent state of rapid change. That will put pressure on the size of workforce and the length of the term of the lease that businesses will sign up to. That will put pressure on the commercial model.
On the design side of things, we’re going to need fit outs that can be changed around a lot more. In a corporate tower, there will be floors that won’t be controlled by one person. There will be flexible floors that all tenants can leverage on an as-demand basis.
The White Paper says Generation Y will form 44% of the workforce by 2025 and they have very different demands and expectations from their employers than previous generations. Half of millennials would “rather have no job than a job they hate”, while 70% want more ‘me time’ at work versus just 39% of Boomers. Do you think the younger generation will be the driving force behind the Liberated Work movement as we move forward?
I think that the younger generation is going to be the driver in large organisations. They are going to becoming the managers making decisions about how people work.
What I have come to firmly believe, it’s actually older generations that are going to end up enjoying the benefits of a liberated workforce, as they need to extend their careers. It will provide more flexible options to work longer as it’s going to be required. The culture change will come from Gen Y, but the beneficiaries of it all are going to be widespread.