The Disappearing Work-Life Divide

CRE Market | Marie Escaich on August 22, 2017

As technology has increasingly shaped the way we live our lives, it is no surprise that tech is also allowing us to change the way we work. Some businesses and individuals are starting to move away from the traditional 9 to 5 in the office, seeking out smarter ways of working.

Here are three of the top trends:

Co-working

There’s no question that the co-working market is booming. New research from Cushman & Wakefield found that in the first half of 2017, co-working and serviced office space providers accounted for the largest share of space leased in Central London for the first time, an impressive 884,235 sq ft of newly-leased office space.

Leading providers like Workspace and WeWork are differentiating themselves with a high quality service offering that may otherwise be out of reach for many small businesses. For example, users who prefer to hot desk can be reassured that they don’t compromise on the essentials, like connectivity, in the pursuit of flexibility.

The co-working trend is only set to grow, with so many companies drawn to the opportunity to cultivate creativity and innovation by putting so many great minds in one space. It’s no longer a space solely frequented by freelancers and startups, with corporates now seeing the advantages of using flexible office solutions as part of their overall portfolio.

Digital Nomads and Remote workers

The rise of tech and cloud services have facilitated the rise of flexible working, enabling staff to work whenever they want, from wherever they want. It’s increasingly common to have colleagues working from locations across the globe; while colleagues may be geographically distant, they remain connected digitally.

The prevalence and quality of internet connectivity has been vital for this evolution and it is has been transformative for many workers who are no longer required to do the daily commute to the office. Subsequently, workers are enabled to be more productive with their time and make lifestyle choices that may previously have been impossible.

Digital nomads take flexible working even further by combining work and travel. Often armed with only a laptop and WIFI connection, they travel the world and work at the same time enabling them to avoid the ennui some get from staying in one city for any length of time, without compromising their career choices. Resources are plentiful with Nomad List listing the places that are most or least accommodating for digital nomads.

Interestingly, international co-working spaces like WeWork facilitate this trend, allowing its members to use the local WeWork as a base when they are travelling around the globe. This decision is no longer an irresponsible career move, and has become the norm for many.

Breaking down barriers between work and life

Nothing integrates work and home more than living where you work. This will certainly become true for many Facebook employees following Zuckerberg’s commitment to building a “village” of 1,500 houses for those workers that are struggling to pay the soaring rents in the Silicon Valley.

The proposed village will create complete immersion into work culture: colleagues will become neighbours, and Facebook will assume responsibility to not only provide work services, but also community services which affect their employees’ home lives.

As well as living where you work, big corporations are finding many ways to integrate the home-life experience. Amazon’s first and only bricks-and-mortar grocery store "Amazon Go" sits at the base of Day 1, one of Amazon’s office towers in Seattle, for the convenience of Amazon’s workers. In addition, the Amazon campus has a huge sports hall, multiple doggy parks, and regular food trucks to ensure employees are not left wanting and continue to be excited about going to work every day. 

While only large enterprises can afford to experiment with the seamless integration of home and work, it is clear that such projects have similar roots to the co-working phenomena. The examples of a designated village of workers, and the co-working concept to build communities of freelancers and entrepreneurs, both break away from traditional office spaces to create new, innovative working environments that have been built with the occupiers’ needs in mind.

However, this does not mean that offices will disappear, but offices will need to adapt to the changing needs and desires of oncoming generations of workers. As the line between work and personal blur, we’re only going to see more innovative approaches to working that better reflect workers’ demands to work intelligently, more creatively, and more flexibly.

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