If you look back at the workspace of 20 years ago, it appeared fundamentally different to the workspace of today. The fax machines and cumbersome computers have been replaced by ever-more-powerful, ever-smarter, ever-shrinking technology, which sits within vibrant, flexible open spaces that facilitate collaboration and accommodate the requirements for more comfort at the workplace.
Today the three pillars of the unfolding revolution in flexible workspace are based on technology, flexibility and comfort. For the BCA, the changing shape and growth of flexible workspace presents innumerable opportunities as well as challenges. Our code of conduct commits our members to “strive to create a beneficial environment for their clients and the wider business community”. In the last 20 years, the constituent parts of that “beneficial environment” have changed considerably as more people have taken advantage of flexible working arrangements and remote working technologies. The challenge for the workspace sector is the need to further adapt to maintain a value-adding proposition and retain relevance in the face of that change.
Many are doing this. The workspaces that are getting ahead in the sector are those that create a high-quality technological and physical environment to underpin other propositions such as wide-ranging event programmes and culinary offerings, as well as meditation rooms and on-site gyms providing an additional element of comfort and functionality to the workspace user. Some operators actively curate their customer base in order to bring together those who are sectorally or strategically aligned, with community managers appointed to bring together those with shared interests. 20 years ago this set-up was unusual, but it is now common and will become more so. To provide just the physical space is no longer enough.
As the future of work changes, so will the flexible workspace, and, as we embark on that journey, much excitement lies ahead.
Jane Sartin is executive director of the BCA