In the wake of the pandemic and the resulting lockdown that followed, we spent some time contemplating the future of the office workspace. It has led us to ask:
Is the traditional office space dead?
Several of us have seen and experienced remote working and understandably, some now wonder why the office is really that important.
The conversations around this question challenges some of the “established” corporate habits we have all come to learn and accept. Some are of the opinion that the workspace culture is dead or dying, while some others just see this period as a passing phase with no resulting existential consequence.
These conversations necessitate us to define what exactly the role of the workspace is in the sustained success of an organization. Workspaces house the brain of every organization. And it’s only logical to ensure an environment with such influence on your organization is designed to be as conducive as possible for occupants, catering to their well-being in mind and body.
When trying to answer the question on the point of offices nowadays when there is Slack and Zoom, The Nigerian business landscape barely gives us instances with which to moot for the importance of the office. This is a narrative that really needs to change.
Around the world workspaces have moved from endless rows of workstations and brutalist spatial programming, to open layouts that enhanced collaboration and socialization, and then further on to action offices that featured a mix between alternative seating options and clustered workstations.
Summarily, the global design focus of office workspaces has evolved from expending comfort for productivity to designing for the all-around wellbeing of the workforce. In Nigeria however, a lot has either not changed or perhaps is changing too slow.
It becomes beneficial for organizations to see that their workspaces should be an environment that encourages quality interaction between team members, the wholistic wellbeing of the occupants, and improved productivity across board. As humans evolve, technology advances and newer ways of collaborating emerge, if implemented right, the distinct importance of workspaces would be more efficiently harnessed for increased productivity rather than be threatened.
With clear and measurable positive results, it is surprising that only relatively few organizations are at the forefront of blazing these new design frontiers. Some Nigerian organizations have joined the journey to the future early, but a large majority unfortunately still remain stuck somewhere in the past.
The generally unempathetic reality of most Nigerian cities, Lagos being a particular focus, makes this an even more critical conversation. With conditions such as the ones we face, the demand for spaces designed to heal, attend and uplift becomes a very pertinent cause and with particular regard to the office workspace.
By bringing different people together to work in one place, the interaction, coordination, and ambiance are expected to boost the quantity and quality of their output. For a space to deliver the highest standards of this requirement, its experience has to be such that people exist in the best possible state of mind and body necessary for high-quality output.
The experience has to adequately cater to the physical, mental, and social components of the users. These people who all come from different places, experience different realities, are dealing with different personal problems have to come together to think and interact together in work. Their workspaces have to both encourage and facilitate team dynamics that lead to better wellbeing and productivity.
In the corporate landscape, anything short of this is dead space.
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