Mobile, cloud and social technologies are rapidly changing our perception of “work” – what it means and, significantly, where we can do it. According to our Q4 Employment Monitor, 88% of employees are convinced they could be as productive no matter what the environment may be, whether it’s tucked away in a corner of a busy cafe, in a colourful co-working hub or in an office cubicle.
The mobile working trend shows no sign of slowing down with many keeping on top of their workload in non-traditional settings. Here are ten examples of innovative office alternatives.
The majority of mobile workers choose to set up camp at home, some creating separate office spaces and others adapting their living room, bedroom or kitchen. This has allowed more people to enter the workforce, from all walks of life and locations. It may be the best option for parents who are unable to afford childcare and struggle to juggle time between the office and home.
A phenomenon that has taken America by storm is slowly but surely making its way to Ireland. Dog Patch, Tog, CoCreate and tcube are just four co-working hubs especially for the tech and design community in Dublin. Here members can work on their projects in a creative and supportive environment, taking advantage of the community feel and resources they would miss out on at home.
How often do you see freelancers and students deep in concentration at your local Starbucks? The coffee shop has been a long favourite with mobile workers, even before wifi access and charging outlets were a necessity for most. The ambient sound of a café has been shown to be the most beneficial sound level for productivity. People watching and a change of scenery keep the environment fresh and you’re never too far from a caffeine hit when you start to flag.
Playing ‘workstation popcorn’ involves creating an achievable to-do list and assigning tasks to different locations. You know exactly what you need to do when you reach each venue so you can jump into your workload straight away. Plus, moving between destinations gives you a proper break from your screen and phone, which you are unlikely to have in the office.
If you don’t fancy working from your own home, maybe you should consider someone else’s? Hoffice is a Swedish company that, much like Airbnb, allows you to view and rent space in another person’s property. Instead of booking a bed, you choose a suitable workspace for whatever length of time suits you.
Our studies have shown that millennials, who will make up 75% of the overall workforce by 2025, feel uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures. As a result, some innovative companies are ditching assigned seating altogether in favour of “hot desking”. This allows employees to shuffle between couches, bean bags, open tables…you name it! Vodafone’s headquarters in Dublin embraces this, with all employees, even the CEO, taking advantage of wifi and sitting wherever they feel comfortable.
In other companies, it’s not just employees that move – desks and workstations do too. At Valve, an American video games company, all desks have been fitted with wheels. This allows employees to disperse into teams quickly and efficiently, while still having their own space for documents and belongings. Heldergroen, a Dutch design company, avails of an innovative studio space where the desks automatically are lifted up into the air at 6pm each day, encouraging employees to partake in networking, yoga or simply go home.
Innovative office spaces
Even offices that haven’t ditched set seating are coming up with fun ways to engage employees on their breaks and outside of working hours. Forward-thinking organisations like NASA, Google and the Huffington Post understand that sleep promotes productivity among employees and provide napping spaces on their premises. Start-ups are becoming synonymous with quirky breakrooms, featuring everything from ping pong tables, video games consoles and toys to hammocks, vibrant artwork and mismatched furniture.
The great outdoors
Why be limited to working inside? Outdoor work spaces allow employees to gain inspiration from the great outdoors as they tackle their tasks surrounded by nature. LiquidSpace, a front-running workspace search engine, has some incredible outdoor spaces in America. Whether the trend takes off over here remains to be seen.
Around the world
There has also been an increase in the number of digital nomads of late – individuals who prefer a location-independent lifestyle and take advantage of technological advancements to work wherever the wind takes them. Digital nomads may settle in a new destination for as little or as long as they wish, and can take advantage of co-working hubs for resources and to meet like-minded travellers.
The mobile workforce is constantly connected and used to adapting to stimulating new settings. With start-ups keen to out-do each other in terms of unconventional workspaces, who knows what the next ten years holds?