If you’re like most people, you work in a high-rise building alongside colleagues who, much of the time, are away from their seats in meetings, at lunch or traveling for business.
Get ready for drastic change. A global recession, emerging sharing economy and more buy in to climate change are each pointing boardrooms toward efficiency. Your office as you know it will be gone.
Where will you work?
You’ll have to come to Austin next week to find out. For the second year running, innovators in work design will host the biggest coworking conference in the world. For those of you new to the concept, collaborative work spaces everywhere are defining themselves as “coworking spaces,” or workplaces that foster productivity, collaboration and community. According toDeskmag, the number of coworking spaces has grown 200% annually for seven years. Want to see a map? LiquidSpace will show you options in 350 cities around the world. The Workspace Association of New York represents over 2 million square feet in the Tri-State area alone, managing a powerful center of influence. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC), or “Juicy” as its commonly known, aims to bring together the best and brightest minds in the movement, to share ideas and inspiration and develop new strategies for the future.
COOs will not continue to pay high electric bills and real estate costs for people who use their space 30% of the time. Your HR departments have already started calling me and my peers for pricing, and booking tours and visits given by our “Community Managers”. We are the proud proprietors of the new world of coworking.
We design for efficiency; our business models depend on it. We are daring entrepreneurs who have challenged the status quo to create unique environments, building blueprints as we progress. The design of the traditional corporation and office suite will be dated, your company’s seats will be re-situated, or you will be relocated to wonderful coworking spaces.
The League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces (LEXC), a unique network of coworking spaces with a common standard of excellence, has become the go-to resource for corporations expanding their workplace strategy to include coworking. Gathering industry pioneers, the organization’s first corporate customer is Accenture. Especially smart for its mobile workers, LEXC makes a compelling case to try a new work solution.
“Commercial real estate is no longer about a square foot; it’s a state of mind,” says Brian Macmahon of Your Office Agent, a commercial agency specializing in lean work space. “Facilities plans have been kept too separate from business plans for far too long. Forward-thinking companies of all sizes are exploring these new models.”
As big business comes aboard the revolution, the triple bottom line gets better.American Express recently lowered its carbon footprint by 27.5 percent, citing a decrease in business travel and the creation of centers for virtual meetings. Widely recognized for championing economic development and entrepreneurship is Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, now championing Las Vegas to become the coworking capital of the world.
What Your Office Will Look Like
Office layouts will be more structured for liquid, easy work. Office design innovation leaders like Turnstone make coworking furniture lighter and more comfortable. The architectural silos that separate departments will erode. You will know more about what’s happening in other areas of your organization. Open plans will create cafe-like atmospheres and promote creativity and transparency.
New workplace tools like Flockd will help people across departments start conversations while increasing productivity. You’ll interact with coworkers in a more friendly, approachable and transparent way. Resources like kitchens, coffee, bathrooms, conference rooms and office supplies will be shared more often. Take a deep breath and get ready to share that pen in your hand, and maybe your monitor too!
FastCompany recognizes the serendipitous, positive function of proximity stimulating innovation. A recent study found “the best, most-widely cited research came from coauthors sitting less than 10 meters apart. ‘How closely they worked mattered as much, if not more, than their affiliation,’ says the study’s author, Isaac Kohane of Harvard Medical School. Coworking’s combination of casual relationships and shared spaces, he suggests, can lead to some of an employee’s most fruitful collaborations.”
Juicy Questions? We have them too. We’re gathering March 5th and 6th for panels on, “Corporations and Coworking,” “Alternative Funding,” “Can Coworking Have a Deeper Impact on Society?” among others. See the full list of events here. The hybrid conference-unconference mixes professional speaking with collaborative DIY sessions.
Led most recently by dynamo Liz Elam, founder of Link Coworking and president of LEXC, GCUC is largely a grassroots effort with support from a wide range of volunteers and sponsors. In a former life, Liz was a top sales executive at Dell; you can see where this trend started. It takes a tireless, inspired team to drive any behavior-change effort. Read more about them here.
How GCUC works
Keynote speakers include coworking space owners, property managers, investors, academics, and serial entrepreneurs. It’s a diverse crowd of professionals, all connected to the coworking movement in different ways. The official Twitter speak is @AustinGCUC, #GCUC and #unGCUC.
People are traveling from every continent to join the dialog that will define the future of how we work, so buckle up!