CBRE Town Plan Diagram

Demise of the large corporate office space – a new paradigm

  •   21 September 2020

We’re already starting to see a very different approach to working that is increasingly more independent and entrepreneurial for the employee and more ‘as needs’ and selective from employers. In 2015 CBRE wrote, Smart Workplace 2040: The rise of the workspace consumer. They propose that with radical changes in working models, the corporate office will be morphed into an ‘Eco Campus’, a distributed set of locations all within a reasonable travelling distance from home, each providing diverse and fluid modes of working and communicating with others.

Physical movement will be vastly reduced with much work happening from a home environment (the Hive) in spaces that have been specially designed to allow for flexibility, providing networked digital communications sources and applications.

Digital communications (the pHive or personal hive) allow users to not only be productive but keep an eye on their wellbeing and life balance to maintain ultimate and healthy levels of productivity. PHive means that when travel is required, work can continue through Warp Workspace using driverless cars and efficient forms of public transport. Transport therefore is not only a mode of getting from one place to another but a place to work, socialise, learn, relax – do other things while also travelling.

Physical meetings and communications occur at universal co-working spaces (Eco Workplace) designed for meeting and collaborating with a diverse community providing opportunities for entrepreneurial ways of working. These spaces are human scale, organic, biophilic spaces that can be adapted to the needs of the users with highly reliant and pervasive technologies. However, retreat and absence from being continuously ‘online’ is seen as important for physical and mental health.

The provision of spaces that are completely ‘offline’ is a luxury sought by 2040 digirati and rooms such as bedrooms or specialised spaces such as ‘Farady Bistros’ providing spaces completely shielded from WiFi and other digital connections. Retreats from a highly connected world.

So, what does this mean for design and sustainability? Flexibility is key here. Without large corporately owned offices, and an outsourcing of labour, corporations can grow and contract on an as needs basis, using the sharing economy to allocate both physical and human resources as required. This could result in less waste and the more efficient use of working spaces, furniture and fittings. Reduced need for new construction through the utilisation of co-working spaces provides the ability to adapt and change to the growing needs of a community, rather than independent organisations. Potentially less travel or, at least over greater distances, will not only reduce energy needs but perhaps also the need for roads, and an increase in shared public transport systems. This could increase urban spaces for greater human needs such as parks or housing and the design of transport vehicles themselves will need to integrate work, social, learning and relaxation activities.

At the heart of all of this, we see a continuing growth and need for positive human experiences, and an increase in meaningful communications with a focus on health, wellbeing and real-life balance opportunities.

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Commercial Architecture (Large)