Wayne Hemingway 26th February 2014 – from a conversation in response to the focal question….
The Younger Generation
The signs are already there about what is changing, and that is that the nature of work. There is growing realisation and proof that we’re in an economy where there’s a generation that is not earning as much as previous generations. There are plenty of facts out there that point to a stagnation and in many cases a decline in disposable income, and many experts are stating that this is not about to change in a hurry. This is coupled with the fact that quality of life was not discussed as much back in the 80s and 90s as it is now, and we have a situation where we have a generation that are not as (nor can they be as) money orientated as my generation was They are choosing a more social life, and choosing ways to achieve that. There are all sorts of ways that that will continue, such as the Scandinavian led way of men having decent parental leave, the welcome growth in parity between the sexes as to who is expected to be the bread-winner and the more equal sharing of child care responsibilities.
There is also a growth in “portfolio careers “where either through choice or by necessity people have a number of jobs and careers within careers
Because of all these people want and need more flexibility in how they work.
Home vs Office
What’s not changing, contrary to what a lot of people think, is the myth that everybody wants to work at home and that the office is an outmoded concept. People might not want to be in the office 5 days a week, but certainly want to be there more often than not. They don’t want to be tied their 9 to 5, 5 days a week, but equally want to feel that they belong. It’s a matter of getting the balance between being able to work anywhere, which is a bonus of modern technology, but not losing that ability to sit and have fun and chat, physically, with your fellow man and woman. The line between home life being social, and work being nose to the grindstone is blurring more and more. Social media has changed the world. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram are used for work and private – we use the same social media apps and websites for work and our social lives. Facebook, Twitter et al, all started out as personal social entities, but most businesses use them as tools now, so staff have them open on the screens without fear!
Everything is blurring. Our parents’ generation would put on a suit in the morning and set off to putting their personal life behind them when they got to the office. And at 5:30 their personal life would start again. Those strict timings and separation of work / home are unlikely to return. And the office has to reflect that – not just in the way its set out, but also the rules, how its run and what’s allowed.
Technology and Work/Life Integration
Many use technology to enhance their life not control it. Some fail in this respect and in the same way as becoming addicted to cigarettes or drugs, control is lost. Many of us have challenges in getting the balance right but we have to strive to achieve what’s best for ourselves, our families, our work You’ve got to be able to get that balance right – and obviously not everyone can.
I left the office in London today at 1:45 and headed to my home on the south coast, because it’s a beautiful sunny day and I want to go for a run with my dog on the beach. I’ve been able to work on the train and I’ll have my phone strapped to my arm as I go for the run along the beach. The phone’s there more for emergencies – what I won’t be doing is stopping to look at my emails. And when I get back home my son will be home from school, I’ll cook some dinner and we’ll have that together. We’ll have a chat, stick the footy on telly, and I’ll put my feet up on the sofa, open the laptop and catch up on the work I could have been doing while I was out running with the dog. And I won’t feel guilty – I’ll feel I’ve got that balance exactly right. I ran when the sun was up and I am inside at home half an eye on footy, with my lads company, when the sun has gone down.That’s the nature of new work, life balance and what technology is allowing me to do.
The Future Office
What is office of the future? I think we designed one iteration of an office of the future 15 years ago when we sold Red or Dead and we’re still in that now. It’s certainly not futuristic. We decided to do it in a suburban house so it felt like you were going into a home. We kept the garden looking like a garden and have a big outside work table with Wi-Fi so in summer anyone can work out there. A meeting area is part of a large kitchen where people are encouraged to cook and make things while people are in meetings. Until we needed larger meeting table, for the first 10 year, meeting table itself contained two teppanyaki hot plates with the idea was that you could stick a bit of grub on and cook it whilst you were in a meeting.
Most people can make their home so comfortable, cool and welcoming very afford-ably, because the retailers have allowed us to achieve that. The office has to keep up, because what you don’t want is a world where people choose to work at home because their office is so shit. People want the same comfort that they would have at home, a place to store their stuff, personal space and for it to be a place to belong to a community and be able to take part in a community.