As offices start to become a thing of the past – with most people working from home, from hot desks or dialling in from their surfboard or local cake shop – we’re at that point where architects of workplaces really need to indulge their imaginations in one last semi-insane bid to keep their jobs alive.
Skyscrapers are out: it’s important they become deeply unfashionable so that they can be knowingly reinvented later as museums.
So what does that leave? Well, it does strike me that if we need to work more flexibly, what could be more flexible than a tent each? Be good in my job – pop up to London for a meeting, then afterwards pitch my CIPD tepee on the nearest roundabout. Saves on the commuting, gets the brand out there. As for the climate change we’re all ‘enjoying’ nowadays, personally I think the igloo isn’t employed nearly enough as corporate premises in this country.
It would also be good to see organisations adopting headquarters which are appropriate to their businesses. We might start to see fairy castles for start-ups with unconvincing business models; or museums for the more monolithic organisations who arguably belong in one.
And of course the cuts are a bit of a game-changer. Still, at least the Navy can now spare us an aircraft carrier or two which could be used as floating office space – as well as shipping people to meetings. Think of the money you’d save on travel expenses. It would also mean we could use sentences like ‘Oh hell – I’ve left my umbrella on the company aircraft carrier.’
Just outside East Croydon station, there’s a large, exciting poster promising a major redevelopment, headed: ‘Hello, Future’. The only trouble is, the future’s clearly been experiencing some delays; it’s been there for about four years now, and is swarming with graffiti. Despite my pleas above for igloos and aircraft carriers - all of which I think we can agree are long overdue - the office of the future is a bit like that ‘Hello, Future’: a greeting which is forever in the air, but never quite fulfilled.
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