The Future of Office Space?

Ben Brooks goes to work on the future of office space:

Maybe corporations don’t have offices anymore, but maybe individuals do have offices. Sometimes that is a desk in the corner of a room full of desks, sometimes that’s an office in a building full of offices.

Brooks’ ideas are very good. The entire post is worth reading for anyone with an office job. More and more companies seem to be getting creative with workspaces, and the “open office” concept seems to server two purposes. First it’s cheaper because people have less space, and second it discourages individual lack of productivity because everyone can see you all the time1. But as more and more people work remotely, either part time or full-time depending on geography, something like rented office space could make tons of sense.

Brooks’ suggestion that companies pay rent for this seems a little farfetched. What seems far more likely is some sort of stipend for office space/supplies be issued that the employee could put towards whatever kind of space they wanted. Since space would vary in quality and size depending on location it would be up to the employee to decide how much over the stipend is worth spending.

The problem here is that this probably only works for a certain size company. A very large company likely owns a large campus or two already, and selling off parts of that probably isn’t simple depending on how it is laid out. Also company culture will come into play. If a company doesn’t have many remote workers already it would be a big adjustment.

But this seems like an interesting concept that could be attractive to some employees. The problem is that it is somewhat a “chicken or the egg” sort of problem. Employees can’t rent individual offices from people until such a system exists, but people won’t provide these offices until there is a demand.

Co-working spaces have become more popular, but tend to be more for freelancers or people who work remotely all the time. These don’t tend to be offices per se, but more like small work areas in a more “open” space. Maybe someone will be able to take it a step further.

Either way, it seems like a clever idea.

  1. A someone who has worked in an open space before, this formerly individual “screw off” time is now replaced by more frequent social conversations that seem even more anti-productive []