50 years ago Herman Miller designed the modern day office. He unwittingly created a living hell that squeezed the life and creativity from people
And this from the inventor of the coolest office chair ever. The idea was to set people free and create a flow of energy and work, whilst at the same time giving people the space to think and create.
We know now that companies fell into two categories:
- Drive efficiency via the reduction the space. As many people using the cheapest space possible mean’t higher working densities than the 19th century workhouse, draconian working hours and ill-thought space
- Those that didn’t understand. They simply followed the heard, and rented offices, added desks and crammed people into less space than mandated in prison.
Those days are over, what does the workplace look like in a world where physical location has become unimportant? In 2006, just 13% of people had the opportunity to telework. Today, almost two-thirds of employees now have the technology and infrastructure to work away from the office. Besides, work doesn’t really get done at work.
Before this decade is out, we’ll all be teleworking to a degree. By the end of the following decade, we’ll wonder why we even went to offices at all. This is not just about savings (estimated to be approximately £10k for the employer and £5k for the employee) but about increased creativity and a better balance of life, work, play and family.
(Stats and numbers from here)
We’ve always been indifferent to physical location. Back when we started in 1996 we were just three people and operating out of 3 homes. The next 3 hires also worked from home. As the company grew in size, we were forced into taking office space. A modest 3,000 sqft cost us over £40,000 per annum in rent, rates, fit-out and fittings and it wasn’t until we realised the benefit of moving to the cloud that we were able to liberate ourselves from the office.
It’s easier, as a digital agency, we don’t get caught up in legacy systems or working practices – and our currency is brains, time and skill. We can do our work anywhere. We can also hire people who can work anywhere. We get the best of both worlds.
It’s been over 18 months since we’ve had an office – those that still commute to a fixed place, and sit at a fixed desk seem alien and somewhat Victorian. We’re all liberated and cosmopolitan now, and use open hubs in Yorkshire, London, New York and anywhere our flexible “space-contract” allows.