Workplaces of the future will feel more like the matrix than office space

The cliché workplace environment of the 20th century makes me think about dull neon lights, desk cubicles, stale air, and large IBM computer monitors. I cannot imagine how this would stimulate productivity, innovation, and a sense of community for today’s office workers or generation.

Fast forward to 2016, the new-age workplace is now about fancy ergonomic furniture, architecturally inspired lighting, digital connectivity around the globe, and so much more. In Australia, workplace trends are changing fast, enabling start-up entrepreneurs, business owners, as well as employees of organisations the opportunity to run their business and / or workplace affairs from these innovative ‘hubs’.

the new-age workplace is now about fancy ergonomic furniture, architecturally inspired lighting, digital connectivity around the globe

A ‘laboratory’ for innovation:

To get a close up insight on this subject, I recently interviewed Australian serial entrepreneur Brad Krauskopf (CEO & Founder of Third Spaces Group).

In my 30 minute chat with Brad, what struck me the most about his philosophy and perspective on the future of workspaces, hinged around his bold remark “Laboratory for Innovation”.

In simple translation, Brad strongly feels that the future workplace should be all about cultivating ‘health and wellbeing’.  It’s about building a ‘community of people’ that will yield an entrepreneurial culture, drive innovation to another level, and elevate the thirst for success from the people within.  It’s also about allowing select employees (eg. intrapreneurs), the chance to nurture their entrepreneurial ideas outside of conventional office environments, and for the organisation at the end, to commercially benefit from outside exposure and learning.

It’s not just about Space !

‘Third Spaces Group’ comprises of Hub Australia and Coactive8.   These entrepreneurial ventures are committed to increasing the collaborative capacity of people, organisations and cities, by conceiving, creating, and activating work spaces that optimise productivity, accelerate innovation and foster community.  Brad’s vision is to ‘ultimately help their members grow their business, by building connections, and offering networking and learning opportunities’.

Brad’s message was as clear as crystal. It’s not enough to just offer physical ‘space’ to workers. Essentially, it’s about creating a competitive learning environment that yields ‘leadership capacity’ to coach and manage the needs of distributed workforces, and ultimately create more entrepreneurial leaders for the future.

The Operating System

When I think about computers and how they function, I think about the hardware and software of the operating system.  If we turn our attention to office space, the ‘hardware’ will comprise of the furniture, the lighting, etc; the ‘software’ on the other hand, are the people that run or function within the office.  A successful workplace requires the careful management and resourcing of both parts.  Brad simply puts it this way… ‘a fancy workplace environment with all the hardware and with no ‘soul’ is doomed to fail’

Brad Krauskopf

(CEO & Founder of Third Spaces Group)

For me personally, I like to use the alogy and comparison of a ‘house’ versus a ‘home’. It’s the shear difference between a sterile, clean, uninhabited environment, versus a warm, cosy and relaxed habitat that promotes a sense of wellbeing, purpose, functionality, and inspiration.

To achieve this result, regardless of whether it’s your home or office, I believe it requires ergonomically designed furniture, a functional floor space design, architecturally inspired features, and most importantly the right people with a healthy collaborative team spirit.

a fancy workplace environment with all the hardware and with no ‘soul’ is doomed to fail

Science Fiction or Reality ?

When I imagine future workspace environments, and I start to fantasize the possibilities, I resort to my favourite science fiction movies like ‘The Matrix’, ‘Back to the Future’, etc. These classics amplify Brad’s vision around the use of technology around the home and in the ‘office’.

According to Brad, the distant future of functional workspace will also be about using ‘virtual reality’ and creating the 4th dimension.   Brad’s closing statement was pivotal and thought provoking.  He spoke about putting on your ‘headset’ and going to work in a ‘virtual world’; being part of an artificial environment that your ‘architect’ has developed specifically for your sensory needs, to amplify your drive, inspiration and productivity to a whole new level.

the distant future of functional workspace will be about using ‘ virtual reality’ and creating the 4th dimension

My question is, how will organisations of the future, adjust and take appropriate measures to best manage their people and the new frontiers of technology ? Will workers prefer conventional office space, ‘smart hubs’, or virtual reality, or a combination of all three ?

This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for magazine for the April, 2016 online edition.

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