Choosing where to base your business is no easy task—whether you’re a large multinational player or a startup of five people. But when it comes down to it, your workspace will make or break your company regardless of business size. No one feels inspired by the idea of spending long hours in an office that’s isolated and falling apart, where it takes half an hour just to get your homepage to load. Getting the office environment right for your team is essential.
Ten years ago, inspirational workspaces were synonymous with the likes of well-known technology brands like Google and Virgin. But not anymore. What was previously reserved for the big corporates and tech giants is now readily accessible to all businesses, thanks to the boom in serviced office providers and coworking spaces. Designed for collaboration with a real sense of community, these spaces have rocketed in popularity over the last five years, and we’ve seen first-hand thousands of companies, large and small, make the move; opting to take advantage of the flexible contracts, revolutionary facilities and pull of top talent these spaces bring.
Redefining office design
Since the early 00s, technology companies have dramatically changed pretty much everything we do—and that even extends to the design of our workspaces. In 2004, Google famously created the Googleplex, which introduced a bunch of new office space design features that were genuinely ground breaking at the time; from installing two swimming pools and 18 fully subsidised cafeterias, to free laundry rooms and giant rubber balls instead of chairs.
But in recent years we’ve seen these features become the new ‘normal’; with the likes of Facebook, Netflix and Amazon all now sporting enviable offices that many people deem nicer than their own homes. Even the most “straight-laced” sectors, like finance and insurance, are moving in this direction. Goldman Sachs unveiled its new European HQ in London earlier this year, complete with a 7,000 sq ft nursery and play centre, breastfeeding rooms for new mothers and contemplation rooms for quiet time, among many other amenities. The bank’s site also boasts eco-credentials, with LED lighting helping to bring the building’s CO2 emissions down by 25% annually.
The war for talent means that companies of all types and sizes are now looking for workspaces that are just as attractive—and forward-thinking—as those of the tech giants. That’s why we’ve seen these innovative trends trickle down into the coworking sector over recent years, making these kinds of facilities much more commonplace and accessible. Now, businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors can give their teams the same office experience for a fraction of the cost of the tech giants.
Understanding the new way of working
The purpose of an office is no longer about going to a physical space to access a machine so you can do your work. These days, most service sector jobs can be done via a laptop or smartphone from anywhere in the world. Tech companies were the first to realise (and facilitate) this, and overhauled the design of their workspaces to focus much more on human interaction; from dedicated areas for brainstorming or entertaining clients to quiet spaces for individuals to work on their own projects. These spaces are more than just another office—they create a physical sense of belonging.
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Companies in other sectors are catching on to this by also choosing offices that allow various types of work to happen at the same time; from breakout spaces for creativity and collaboration, to phone booths for private calls and event space for conferences and talks. And you don’t have to be a household name to provide this. Many coworking spaces provide all of these amenities and more, succeeding in creating zones that employees want to spend time in, rather than have to.
Helping teams bring their whole selves to work
Tech companies were also the first to realise that the future of work will blur the lines between “personal” life and work. Large or small, teams are the very heart of a company; they drive business success day in, day out. As such, they need to feel like they have a workplace where they can live their whole lives—not just their work lives. This is so much the case that Facebook is thinking about building a residential campus next to their office campus in Silicon Valley.
While the latter might not be feasible for 99.9% of companies, it’s great to see the recent shift that so many companies are making towards treating employees as people, placing a much greater emphasis on their mental and physical health. Coworking spaces such as Second Home provide meditation and yoga classes each day, The Office Group have gyms with personal trainers on hand, and Fora is currently doing an event series focused on mental health in the workspace. By taking a leaf out of the tech giants’ book and basing your company in this kind of environment, it shows your team how much you value them as people.
Tech giants were the first to recognise that as the line between work and life blurs, the office environment has to evolve as well; work and life simply aren’t mutually exclusive anymore. Thanks to them, the idea of what makes an amazing office space has fundamentally changed for the better. As the demand for the ‘new norm’ of office space has increased, we’ve seen innovation permeate and inform a new breed of coworking office spaces. Gaining access to all the amenities and benefits once found only in world-renowned companies has never been easier; and by choosing the right flex workspace environment, your business can thrive—no matter how big you are.