Blurry Edges: the Way We Work has Changed Significantly

December 31, 1969

The way we work has changed significantly. An ‘office’ can be on the train, in cafes or even in client offices. But large workplaces still do exist and we need to find ways to make them fit in with new working trends.

From a tenant perspective, a workplace must reflect what they are and what they want to be. A successful workplace is measured by its ability to enable efficiency, effectiveness, sense of place, motivation and health and well-being. Developers understand this but have to deliver projects in the context of the development yield and project feasibility. So, how can everyone work together? What role do designers play in all of this and what’s next for our industry?

To find out, we interviewed Amanda Stanaway, Principal and Regional Head of Workplace Strategy and Consulting, at the Woods Bagot 2015 Developers Conference.

Tenant budgets are tighter than ever and the way we work is more flexible than ever. Do longer lease terms and bigger premiums still exist?

Yes, absolutely. Successful businesses still need to have a stable core. Fit-out costs are too expensive for businesses to be constantly moving around. The key is having additional smaller, more flexible spaces to grow in to. Flexibility for growth and change just requires what I like to call blurry edges. Tenant club spaces, for example, like NAB Village, which is a 500 square meter space used by NAB and its business partners and shared with the community for work and meetings. And, of course, co-working hubs, which offer lease space on a per-head basis, are on the rise. Smaller start-up offshoots of the big corporates increasingly favor co-working environments because they facilitate collaboration with other innovators.

I think we’re also going to see more companies utilizing smaller leases associated with their existing business. For example, relocating people to available space in a bank branch, rather than housing all corporate staff in the bank’s head office. The lease line no longer defines a hard edge that houses only full-time staff for one corporate entity. The boundaries between corporates and the community are dissolving and in the future this could dramatically change the way we structure leases. But it certainly doesn’t mean long-term leases won’t exist.

Amongst all of this, it’s crucial that the ‘core’ lease is working as efficiently as possible through activity based working methodologies and other ways to increase flexibility for staff. Equipping them to work from home, offsite or in partner offices, for example. These models are how tenants can occupy space at greater share ratios. Pushing these ratios harder as an organization grows is a good way to operate between longer-term growth strategies.

At the end of the day, big tenants still need to invest in long-term workplaces. We all just need to be clever about the blurry edges.

Workplace Architecture