Tech and lifestyle working – the evolution of home and work spaces
by The Property Addict
As the world becomes more connected via technology, bricks and mortar spaces are having to cater to new living and working habits. The advent of billion – dollar tech startups, such as Facebook, Uber, Atlassian and Twitter, known as ‘Tech Unicorns’, targeting millennial talent as employees has fostered a more relaxed office culture, from Silicon Valley and beyond – and is influencing the larger corporates to follow suit.
Not only are they adopting a more relaxed working office space, but they’re also swapping corporate attire from conservative, straight-laced business suits to t-shirts and Nike Frees – maybe even a board short! PwC Australia is one of the latest companies to adopt this trending corporate policy of relaxed attire for its 6000 staff, effective July of this year.
‘Where in 2012-13 the tagline for working space for large corporates was ‘ABW – Activity Based Working Space’ – where employees had hot desks and locker rooms – the evolution is now towards fostering and attracting talent,” says Mia Feasey, CEO of Singapore and Sydney-based commercial interior design firm, Siren.
Feasey’s credentials are impressive: she’s worked on the fit-out and design of corporate offices spaces for leading innovators such as Facebook, Google, Domain, Uber, Twitter, B Pay and Atlassian; to name but a few. Feasey says that employers seeking the best talent are having to make the office as comfortable as a home, as well as optimising workspaces to be cloud based and mobile, so much employees can work anywhere.
“Feeding staff breakfast, hydration stations, micro kitchens and ‘biophilia’ (or indoor greenery) are all what these major employers are asking for when it comes time for corporate office fitouts,” notes Feasey.
The concept of making work feel like home is evident in the rising popularity of ‘nap rooms’ – a trend which is increasingly being acknowledged as being synonymous with a higher level of creativity, problem solving and increased company revenue. Indeed, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, is a firm believer in nap rooms to foster individual creativity, and nurturing a more holistic approach to working.
More than just making the office feel like home, big corporates are taking it a step further to encourage their staff to work from home. In her book ‘Lean In’, CEO of Facebook Cheryl Sandburg talks about the importance of having time with her young family, which means she is often working from home late at night once the kids are in bed. For Sandburg, a career must be flexible in working around the family – which often means working in part from a home office.
The residential space is therefore beginning to reflect these changes.
Whilst offices are now boasting kitchens that look like a luxury home, homes are now starting to mimic the look and feel of a corporate space, with the demand for quality and connectivity flowing to “smart” apartments. This evolution of working behaviour is causing living spaces and working spaces to look and function in similar ways, for maximised comfort and productivity.
“We are certainly catering to a more sophisticated occupant,” says Ed Horton, Principal of Stable Property Group, who are developing The Burcham apartments in Sydney’s Rosebery.
“The Burcham is what could be called one of the first Schneider Electric ‘Smart’ buildings, which means that there is complete connectivity, and remote control over everything from heating to dryers to audio – which can be controlled from anywhere via a smartphone.”
The edible gardens, common areas and sun drenched rooftop space at The Burcham (which also hooks into each of the individual apartments WIFI) means that people who work from home, can be working outdoors comfortably, whilst the roaming WIFI means that they can still enjoy that same level of connectivity they would in the office.
“The live-work space has really become integrated, because technology means that we never switch off and more and more people are working from home.” says Horton.
“Working-from-home arrangements are now regarded as normal across both large and medium businesses. The incidence of start up and home-based businesses is increasing, so we have integrated aspects into The Burcham that will make both life and work easier .”
And this is a growing trend in Australia.
In figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August this year , almost a third of all employed people in Australia regularly worked from home in their main job or business.