How Changes In Workplace Culture Influence Workspace Design

The future of working: Nissan e-NV200 WORKSPACe is the world’s
Photo: Nissan Couriant

The closer we approach the year 2020, the more redundant the office cubicle is becoming. Our attitudes about why, how, and where we work are changing.

Workplace culture is changing how businesses operate and is driving the demand for alternative workspaces. The closer we approach the year 2020, the more redundant the office cubicle is becoming. Our attitudes about why, how, and where we work are changing. Unlike previous generations, it can be argued that the workforce of today and the future place a higher premium on self-determination and flexibility than higher salaries.

If you observe the labour market demand for businesses which acknowledge the need to offer workers flexibility in working hours and locations, you’ll realise that it has never been higher. As a result, those companies quick to adapt will attract the best talent. However, the challenge for many businesses is the lack of know-how and leadership that enables the effective transformation of business practices through rethinking performance measures, encouraging operational open-mindedness, embracing cultural diversity, and updating communication channels. All which are essential for responsive organisation.

Businesses which tend to have structures that are non-hierarchical and dynamic enough to take advantage of technologically enabled work management platforms have a greater chance of tapping into the resource niche that many millennials are seeking to be a part of.

Several companies are already making a success of this by empowering their workforce with the right technological solutions including project management software such as Trello, Slack, or Asana which enable remote working and collaboration and consequently minimise the need for conventional office based work routines. Applications such as Toggl which are great time tracking tools with an ability to create timesheet reports have completely changed the game in terms of making it possible to work while on the move. What is really important to note is that the way in which we implement a different management system should also be complemented by a psychological adoption of new ways of thinking alongside practical and innovative ways of doing things.

According to a study conducted by Virgin Media Business, more than half of all employees will be working from home in the next several years. A Polycom study also revealed that more than 30 million Americans currently take part in flexible working or work from home at least once a week and some 69 percent of Chinese workers are already working remotely. All this suggests there is a massive need for alternative workspaces.

To put things into perspective, it’s essential to shine a spotlight on ethonomics and the sharing economy in light of the growing trend and its implications not only on workspace interior design, but also architectural and industrial design. It is apparent that worker and consumer expectations are shifting, and this in turn is disrupting the traditional approaches to the way in which business is conducted. It is therefore critical that changes be brought to design thinking as far as creating new workspaces that align with this shift.

Many proponents of alternative work practices and workspaces positively make the argument that the workforce participating in this sector tends to be more focused on tasks and don’t feel restricted by certain workspace designs.

What the marketplace currently demands is a combination of integrative thinking, fresh design approaches, and optimal use of technology, all within a framework which factors in humanistic ethics and values.

One of the most notable trends which has come about as a result of the socio-cultural changes driving this new workplace economy is the rise of multipurpose spaces. The old distinctions attributable to assigning single purpose functions to specific architectural spaces are becoming blurred.

Alongside the architectural and industrial design sectors, significant changes are also taking place in manufacturing. Workspace design now incorporates new forms which are altering our aesthetics and the way we perceive utility. It’s no longer just a matter of buildings or other sites being designed or modified to address these changes, it is right down to the products being introduced in the market. We are seeing an increase in new product designs in all areas including some unexpected ones such as automotive industry with companies such as Nissan experimenting with new ways of designing their cars for purpose. Ultimately, the aim is to provide solutions to help increase productivity in a work world undergoing fundamental systemic changes.

‘Hot desking’ which takes after the business model popularised by companies dominating the sharing economy such as Airbnb, and which essentially allows individuals to participate in the short-term space letting market is experiencing a boom. Vrumi, a platform which connects professionals to homeowners who have available rooms within specific locations for temporary occupation is one such player. Parties involved who may initially have concerns about safety are often surprised at how effective peer reviews are as a standard feedback feature which promotes transparency and provides a blanket of security especially when making dealings in today’s social-driven world.

Other companies, the likes of Peerspace, PivotDesk, LiquidSpace, and even Google with its Google Campus offering in London, are already established players in the market of renting fully equipped workspaces for periods as minimal as a couple of hours to on-the-move workers, which is quite ideal for freelancers or startup employees who may not have the resources to take up a conventional lease with a regular estate agent.

A workspace is meant to foster creativity, encourage collaboration, or productive interactions. And many proponents of alternative work practices and workspaces positively make the argument that the workforce participating in this sector tends to be more focused on tasks, because they do not have to deal with the burden and monotony of typical office routines, or feel restricted by certain workspace designs. So, if your business is considering adopting a new approach to working practices in order to increase productivity, cut costs, or simply provide more flexible means of working for the benefit of business and employees alike, looking into alternative workspaces might just be the way forward.

Originally published in The Huffington Post 28/02/17

Picnic Finish iii

tasty treats on the table for brunch
summer setting: next to the baobab tree trunk

and she knows all my favourite stuff
quiche, cherry tomato and grapefruit punch

so on this sun-spangled Sunday
I’m thankful for her presence

and the way she expresses her love
in almost every little thing she does

I’m grateful because without her I may have never come to realise
that real love can satisfy every appetite


Heath Muchena, 2017

What About Art? iii

Create with your heart
Never letting ego stand in the way of art
And consider the impact your work might have on those who come into contact with it
But don’t concern yourself too much about what they may think of it


Heath Muchena, 2017

Garden Route Getaway ii

She thinks he’s cheating
Because she knows his weakness
Says he lusts too much
As if he’ll never get enough

So the idea that he’s out of town for the weekend
With his other other half
Is to her the same as putting their relationship on the verge of trust

Meanwhile in the garden route
They picnic amid summer flowers
A connection is blossoming
And it’s magical
So to simply call it lust would be outright unjust


Heath Muchena, 2017

The Power of Ideas

Since an idea is the result of familiar factors
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that nothing is ever new
And that elemental changes in circumstances
As life, subject to time, continues to present different sets of events
Enable novel notions

Thus, to be original
Implies that one should apply fresh thinking
By enquiring into established estimations
In order to come upon divergent realisations

But to do so
Creativity, imagination, and reasoning
Should be brought to bear
For the purposes of problem solving
And if one happens to have a dream
Then all meaning will be discoverable in the transformation of the vision into reality


Heath Muchena, 2017

What I See? Eternity…

loving oneself
is looking inward
while accepting the exterior
through the eyes of heavens above
all doubts aside


Heath Muchena, 2017

Lead or Lose

no person is a precursor of their own destiny
because influence is ever present
whether through the media, a teacher, or parent

but since learning is inferential
it is ultimately the individual’s responsibility
to fulfil their full potential and impact the planet
or waste away through decadence

so all I can really say is that
lead in order to learn
but also learn to lead


Heath Muchena, 2017