Mobile working

WHERE DO YOU WORK? From clifftop to kitchen worktop or office?

Where work could – and will – be done in the future.

They open their laptops in camper vans overlooking the ocean, chat with colleagues in their favourite city’s market square, or plan meetings for the next day whilst getting dinner ready. Generations Y and Z want to work more flexibly. And this is clear from the ever-rising number of digital nomads.

Mark Phillips, Professor of Experimental Space at Coburg University, looks at the key influences on workspace concepts in the architecture magazine md. His article focuses on the requirements of the people who shape our economy, whose impact will soon become even more evident, and addresses a question to which we dedicated an entire study: “How will the talents of tomorrow work?” 

In an article entitled “Kooperativ planen” (planning cooperatively) published in the md magazine, Prof. Mark Phillips advocates the development of workspace concepts that are tailored to the new needs of emerging talents, guaranteeing flexibility in time and space whilst allowing office environments to enjoy a level of comfort previously reserved for the home or “third places”. 

78 % of employees are confident that workspace design has a direct influence on productivity, according to the outcome of the study we conducted jointly with the Handelsblatt Research Institute in 2020. In this study we presented the results of a representative survey of people belonging to Generation Z and medium to large-sized employers.

The office is still important. But in what form?

Despite the benefits of working from home, in a coworking space or anywhere else in the world – the younger generation of employees has no desire to completely relinquish the classic on-site office space. It’s more a matter of being able to decide for yourself. Or as Prof. Mark Phillips puts it: “It’s the fact that people are happier if they can make their own work decisions.”

A study by the Deutsches Innovationsinstitut für Nachhaltigkeit und Digitalisierung (German Innovation Institute for Sustainability and Digitalisation) found that one problem identified from a management perspective in particular is the loss of creativity in a team due to the distribution of employees across different locations. It makes product and process innovation more difficult, according to the trend study “Die Zukunft des Arbeitens – Mittelstand und Mobile Work” (The future of work – medium-sized companies and mobile work). One reason cited for this is the sub-optimal provision of digital technology, especially in the case of medium-sized companies.

It’s the fact that people are happier if they can make their own work decisions

What that means for the design of office spaces

The ideal is often far removed from reality. Companies typically have quite a monotonous office scheme characterised by a succession of desks and meeting rooms. This is periodically broken up by concepts that are now considered mainstream, such as activity-based-working, more innovative coworking, or lounge areas. Our analyses, performed using the WORK.CULTURE.MAP consulting tool, demonstrate that the office outfitting status-quo expresses the digital, agile and democratic extent of the work culture. Or as Mark Phillips puts it: “The spaces are not designed for different requirements and cannot offer optimum support for individual, flexible and spontaneous working approaches.” So what can be done about that? 

The world of mobile work needs interior design for people – with authentic concepts to reflect a diverse range of personalities. Put into practice with sustainable solutions and equally sustainable materials. Flexible space structures are needed for ease of rearrangement so that new requirements can be accommodated whenever necessary. This allows the room architecture and outfitting to follow a design that caters for situations and cooperative needs, for instance on the basis of the information we collect using our WORK.CULTURE.MAP, which is then visualised with new objectives and subsequently put into practice with innovative furnishing concepts.

Furnishing with maximum flexibility

Here at König + Neurath we made this our motto several years ago. Since then we’ve been developing lots of furnishing ideas that are not just sustainable and customisable – they also ensure maximum flexibility in terms of time: for instance our podiums make an ideal mobile meeting solution – but they can also be used for group learning or panel discussions, and rearranged or moved as needed. The same applies to our NET.WORK.PLACE Organic upholstered elements, which are on castors for easy relocation and therefore ideal for furnishing spontaneous work zones. 

Our TALO.YOU desking system can be set up to suit any new environment. If an individual desk is no longer required, the elements can be reconfigured to create a bench or conference table.

References in this article: 

Phillips, M. (2022, 27th October). Kooperativ planen, Homeoffices und Third Places als Impulsgeber für Arbeitsplatzkonzepte. md. 

Schalk, N. (2022, 13th May). NEW WORK IST MEHR ALS HOMEOFFICE. 

Cebra (2022, 3rd August). Trendstudie: Homeoffice schränkt Kreativität beim Arbeiten ein.

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