i+D - May/June 2019 - 39

Flexible, Functional Workplaces - By Sheila Kim

Meeting spaces at Shopify's
Montreal office meet the
needs of both private and
more open conversations.
(Image: Claude-Simon Langlois)

Workplace of the Future?
Gazing into the workplace crystal ball, Eagle, Ferguson, Reeves, and Mical
agree that the flexible office isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And for that
reason, walls probably won't make a comeback in the near future. Although,
notes Ferguson, "For some of our clients, the walls never left. Not all work
typologies are geared for open concept-and information sensitivity plays
a large role." In such cases, Linebox Studio encourages clients to pursue a
balance of both privacy and openness.
Ferguson makes one intriguing prediction: "I think the line between work and
home may bleed further into one another and companies will explore elevated
campus-style living accommodations and temporary-stay units for traveling
employees." This doesn't seem so far-fetched considering there already is a
project in Europe exploring this. Called Station F, the new Paris incubator is
constructing a housing project-a mere 10 minutes away by bicycle-with
co-living accommodations for up to 600 of Station F's entrepreneur members.
Flexible short-term leases enable visiting entrepreneurs to take advantage
as well.

The flexible office isn't going
anywhere anytime soon.
And for that reason, walls probably
won't make a comeback
in the near future.

Eagle believes there will be more agile working "as industries recognize the
benefits of efficiency, workplace effectiveness, and employee empowerment
that this program creates." He also predicts we will see a resurgence of the
"Free Agent Nation" that Daniel H. Pink proclaimed in Fast Company more
than 20 years ago, and that will lead to growth of coworking offices.
Mical suggests, "We'll continue to see emphasis on flexibility as it relates
to both physical workspaces and hours, experience-driven offices that put
people first, and an increased ability for employees to customize their own
workspaces through connectivity in devices and everyday objects."
With technology constantly advancing and improving on keeping people-
especially telecommuters-connected, will any of this matter? All four design
leaders believe the physical office will not become extinct. "Regardless of
industry, every company has the need for some level of collaboration, faceto-face interaction, and personal connection as part of the delivery of their
work," says Eagle.
Linebox's Reeves adds, "Even if workers can connect remotely, there is
something important about being physically present with other people. Being
with others in the same space fosters a real sense of connectedness and
community-and leads to a strong sense of company culture."

SHEILA KIM
is a Brooklyn-based design journalist who previously held
positions at Architectural Record and Interior Design
magazines, among others. Now a freelance writer and
editor, she has recently contributed to Azure, Metropolis,
The Washington Post, AD Pro, and Contract, and
continues to write for Architectural Record.

i+D - May/June 2019

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