The latest advances in technology have allowed the office boundaries to become ever more blurred. The workplace, as we know it, is no longer necessary to carry out our activities. In recent years new trends have arisen in the work place that take advantage of technology which allows to generate very different spaces from those of traditional corporate offices. Common areas shared by two or more companies, small office leasing on demand or hotels that offer places to conduct meetings, these are just some examples of what is happening today in the corporate world.
Some architects, including William Mitchell have suggested that the distinctions between architecture and technology are becoming with time less evident. The spaces, especially, corporate spaces, are designed to be interchanged, almost unconsciously, between technological and architectural elements. This has given way to the fact that the simple act of " working " should not be an activity that is restricted exclusively to a desk inside a corporate office. Indeed, new proposals concerning the activity of working have emerged in recent years and have been gaining strength in this decade.
In different cities new spaces known as " hubs " have emerged, where individuals or small businesses have gotten together to work as a community and have begun sharing, not just a few square meters, but also their knowledge and experience. Generally, to access these spaces a daily or monthly membership fee is paid and besides having an environment designed under the latest trends of technology and design, the members are able to access a " social infrastructure " which allows them to create partnerships, share knowledge and strengthen and bolster their business, in an environment of teamwork and cooperation. Conferences, business meetings, trade shows, working lunches are just some some tools that are offered by those who manage these Hubs.
A similar concept to the one we just mentioned is that of companies that decide to cohabit with others. This is to say that two or more companies join forces to share the same space. Each company has a private space devoted to their own work stations, but common areas such as reception, meeting rooms, training areas, informal meeting areas, cafeteria, coffee spots, among others, are shared. In addition to splitting maintenance costs, the collaborators of the cohabiting companies have the opportunity to share with a large number of people with different backgrounds and experience. This type of space has proven to be very effective when it comes to exchanging knowledge and generating new business ideas, services or products.
On the other hand, due to the fact that some companies have decided to open their doors to persons who do not work there directly, but are able to make use of their facilities; certain spaces are of free access to both partners, to visitors and customers. Informal meeting areas, common areas, cafes, are available and even rely on enough technology to conduct video calls or video conferences. This trend can be seen in major cities with a high volume of people traveling to do business one or two days a week, and are in need of a place to access their mail, write some emails, and carry on.
These new working trends have come to make us question the way how work places are " consumed ". Today, the workplace is a commodity, more than anything else. Many companies are opting for an individual demand model, in which each employee chooses the type of space they need at the time and place that they need it for. For many, it is a more sustainable alternative, since only the square meters that are required get used, instead of having an office available where the average usage does not exceed 60%. There are even websites where you can list the available space and reserve it days in advance and so you ensure a place where you can serve clients, connect to the Internet and work without any problems.
In the ( not too distant ) future companies will stop buying or leasing square meters and, conversely, will " consume " the space on demand, according to the place where their labor force can be found and at the specific time needed to carry out their activities. Furthermore, technology allows us to perform our tasks from a park, a cafeteria or a plane. The real estate as we know it today, is undergoing a major change, not only for the industry but also for the corporate world in general.