02 February 2015

Nomad workers: a new way of conceiving an office.

DI Giuliano Azzinari

“We're polishing the brass on the Titanic as it goes down!”
Tyler Durden, Fight Club (1999)

The workplace we have always imagined no longer exists and is, above all, subject to a number of other changes.
The permanent job has declined rapidly together with its most permanent fixture: the microcosm of the office desk with pen holder, photo, document tray, bits and pieces, folders, drawer unit and reams of paper opens up new opportunities for creative forms of organisation of the workspace.
We are the new nomads: roaming workers who use the workplace.
We are a species equipped with a standard survival kit that enables us to work autonomously and independently: backpack, laptop, battery charger, tablet, smartphone, pen and notebook. In the offices where we work, we leave no trace: we occupy a free place, open our laptop, enter the company Wi-Fi password and work– at the end of the day, we log out, close our laptop and no longer exist; we only remain in the memory of the company via passwords and access to on-line servers.

In the last twenty years working with many different companies, I have experienced at first hand, and often anticipated, the profound transformations in the planning and methods of using offices. What are the main developments under way that guide and will guide office design criteria in the future? In my view, these can be summed up as four trends: organisational development: rethinking space to take advantage of the ongoing transformation to more streamlined company structures. Teamwork becomes increasingly more important with the need for sharing in terms of workstations (individual, islands, open space) and, above all, meeting areas; technological development: the workplace should be interpreted in a wide sense since laptops, tablets and Wi-Fi have literally freed people from their own desks. The use of space becomes more flexible with lounges that are transformed into spaces for working or interaction just like traditional workstations or meeting rooms. In addition, constant cost optimisation has significantly reduced business travel by replacing a "presence" with teleconferencing tools and radically transforming the use of conventional meeting areas; cultural development: designing to achieve sustainability and psychophysical wellbeing is the new frontier for development in the workplace both in terms of corporate responsibility as well as improving productivity and relations. We must therefore not only find increasingly integrated and innovative system solutions with lower costs and environmental impact, but also put humans in the centre by thinking in terms of overall quality of life and not only light or climate; communication development: transforming one's own employees and co-workers into promoters of the company by reinforcing a sense of belonging and bringing the company closer to people by highlighting its history and values. This is why brand design is an important part of design and transforms offices from workplaces to something that conveys corporate identity. The 2015 Salone del Mobile, like all other events that regard promoting the future and progress, must not miss the opportunity to reaffirm the central role of human beings in the work place; we are experiencing a time of great energy and opportunity where innovation and ideas can rapidly change the future.