30 July 2021
Curated by: Redazione IVM

Scenarios and outlooks for the office of the future

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In today’s complex scenario, the context of life in the office is coalescing around certain points of reference. On one hand, there is the need to return to working safely in physical presence, and on the other there is the phenomenon of remote working, while yet another possibility comprises coworking and office sharing.

These dynamics force us to break free from the methods of work that we have been accustomed to until today.

However, we should begin from a fundamental consideration. The office is now no longer just a workspace, but an opportunity for meeting in order to share ideas, projects, passions and emotions in spaces that are increasingly flexible, dynamic and diffuse.

The question is therefore: “what will workspaces and workplaces be like in the near future?”
“How will they be transformed to encourage the development of new organisational models?”

 

Remote working and physical presence: is there another solution?

Over the course of just over a year, we have gone from working in physical presence to distance working, then returning back to the office once again. Over this period we have discovered new opportunities, but also many critical aspects, above all the lack of interactions with colleagues.

All this has heightened the awareness that offices are, and will continue to be, essential structures for all organisations, and equally for workers’ growth and wellness.

However, this awareness has to go hand in hand with radical changes that companies will have to adopt, both regarding the optimisation of workspaces and their policies and processes of work.

Today, more than ever before, workers perceive the need to feel part of a community more than just a working group, and to be connected rather than simply close.

 

Coworking: a phenomenon in constant development

Flexible, temporary offices, that we define as shared workspaces, continue to enjoy a powerful development notwithstanding the pandemic, and they are increasingly becoming a successful organisational model in Italy.

Today there is one coworking structure for every 76,000 inhabitants. In 2018 there was one for every 84,000 (source: Italian coworking Survey).

These spaces are found predominantly in Northern Italy, and more specifically in Lombardy, the region with 27.98% of the structures of this type in our country (one coworking structure for every 44,000 inhabitants).

The intensity of colour indicates the number of coworking spaces present in each region

Source: Italian Coworking (February 2021)

 

And in the South?

In Central and Southern Italian regions, the situation is markedly different.

Only Rome sustains a growth in shared workspaces, while the cities in other regions are showing a very slow expansion, partly due to the lack of tangible support and regional incentives, and to the corporate culture and policies adopted by employers.

The latter represent one of the principal factors limiting expansion policies for coworking in Italy and worldwide.

According to the Evolution of Work 2.0 research study by the ADP Research Institute, only a quarter (25%) of the workers all over the world belong to a company that has an official policy regarding flexible work contracts.

So we are still a long way from the definitive adoption of this model of work, but it is a transition that we absolutely have to take if we genuinely desire to move towards the perspective of more inclusive, diverse offices, where connection becomes the corporate power plant.

 

What would happen if all offices were connected?

The shared office is no longer just a notion, but a concrete solution to creating places for interaction in which to encourage creative interchange and the birth of new ideas.

Just imagine totally “open” offices in which it is possible to interact constantly with new people, all coming from different backgrounds. Up until a few years ago, this type of scenario would have been unimaginable, but today it is becoming reality for many companies.

These include Cisco, Enel, FS, Generali, Iren, Manpower, Trenord, Leonardo, Microsoft, PWC and Cassa Depositi, which, together with other organisations, have launched the Smart Alliance project, whose objective is to create shared workspaces that can be booked using an App.

smart office

The project will soon enter its experimental phase, scheduled to begin in the second half of September 2021, and it will run for 6 months. The companies taking part will make available some of their offices, in cities including Rome, Milan, Naples, Catania and Trapani, in order to test the efficacy of this new model of work.

In this phase, a number of studies will be performed on the employees of the companies involved, primarily aimed at assessing the solution’s impact on wellness, creativity and productivity.

So, in addition to those who choose remote working and those who work in physical presence, there is also a third path, consisting of a new, experimental method of activity, in which people, with their interrelations, constitute the essence of work.

Read more at “The future of the office begins with innovation

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