Illustration by Bell MellorIllustration by Bell Mello

In The Economist this week, there is an article about how modern workers resemble nomads, and this has changing the buildings, cities and traffic.

The premise is that:

“The fact that people are no longer tied to specific places for functions such as studying or learning, says Mr Mitchell, means that there is “a huge drop in demand for traditional, private, enclosed spaces” such as offices or classrooms, and simultaneously “a huge rise in demand for semi-public spaces that can be informally appropriated to ad-hoc workspaces”. This shift, he thinks, amounts to the biggest change in architecture in this century. In the 20th century architecture was about specialised structures—offices for working, cafeterias for eating, and so forth. This was necessary because workers needed to be near things such as landline phones, fax machines and filing cabinets, and because the economics of building materials favoured repetitive and simple structures, such as grid patterns for cubicles.”

This may be otherwise know and the re-emergence of “Third Places” as Sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls it in his 1989 book, “The Great, Good Place”.

What we’re finding is that this is definitely the case. The widespread use of laptops by our consultants, ubiquitous wireless technology, the use of Instant Messaging and VoIP has changed our physical office. “The Office” has evolved from a place where everyone came to work everyday, to a multi-use space that is split between formal/casual work and private/meeting spaces. So, on some days, there is hardly anyone here. Other days, it is packed to the gills for client meetings and team reviews.

The point here is choice. While we understand the value of face time with each other and our clients, we often have a choice of working where it is the most comfortable and productive. The choice of work location is sometimes determined by the nature of the work being performed, and at other times by how the individual prefers to work.

What this has also done is let us use less space to get more work done without affecting productivity. That’s good for the environment and also keeps our overhead to a reasonable level while expanding the scope and size of our businesses.

What do you think? It works for us, does it work for you?


One Response to Are We Evolving Into Modern Nomads?

  1. Sebastian says:

    The isolationism grows …. but appears to be the very opposite …. with everyone connected.

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