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The future of workspaces
'The future of workspaces' was the star of the show at the ninth edition of the office and co-working event, organised by Grupo Vía at the Actiu showroom in Madrid. The meeting took place in a sector that underwent a 20% increase in office hirings in Madrid, and 21% in flexible space availability in Spain in 2021. Interior designers and real estate consultants from top firms such as Utopicus, Allende Arquitectos, AECOM, Enorme Estudio, Ubicca, Lexington, Unispace and Studio Banana analysed the main trends and workspaces being designed, as well as the coexistence of these new offices with flexible spaces, co-working and teleworking.
The event saw the attendance of Antonio Fuentes, Commercial Manager for the Actiu Madrid sales distribution channel and Andrea Quintana Pérez , Key Account Manager for Fagerhuit Spain, who presented products and solutions such as Actiu's Gaia IoT platform and Fagerhuit's Organic Response System. These are two initiatives that help to improve wellbeing in workspaces, while building smart, high-performance environments through an exhaustive space and user requirement analysis.
The Managing Director of STUDIO BANANA, Matías Rodríguez, spoke about the power of spaces and objects to tell stories, convey emotions and create communities, highlighting the need to create innovative, user-focused experiences that help organisations to both transform and be transformed. "How to strike a balance between versatility and multi-usage with a space that conveys identity, and how work stops simply being a place to go to and becomes a place where things happen, are just a few of the challenges we address in our projects", explains the architect, for whom it is all about building adaptive and evolutionary ecosystems, where very different generations can coexist and build a community together.
"Before asking themselves what the future of workspaces entails, companies will have to take a step back and understand their employees, because for the first time in history we're seeing five generations in the same workplace"pointed out Carmen Malo.
The Associate Designer of Unispace highlighted how changing needs require a different kind of workspace, making it essential for companies to understand what type of talent they want to have, retain and attract, as well as the value offices provide to employees.
"Retaining and attracting talent is vital, and the needs of new generations (who are focused on psychological well-being, health, diversity, resilience and education) are totally different to those of previous generations”, adds CEO of Ubbica José Luis Bescansa , for whom physical space remains a key driver in how people interact, despite the current paradigm shift.
"The digital revolution has meant that individual and focus-intensive tasks may be done at home, while collaborative tasks and those having a real transformative impact on the workplace, tend to take place in the office" highlighted Project Manager/Architect for AECOM Sergio Fabón, who also underlined how the pandemic has changed the way we live and relate to each other on a personal and professional level.
Enorme Estudio partner and director Rocío Pina, explained how the design of public spaces, cities or the home itself can be applied to these flexible workspaces, through overlapping of uses that facilitates change, as needs themselves change. This is a flexibility that the studio sees as "a way of committing to sustainability by extending the useful life of spaces, avoiding unnecessary renovations and producing less waste".
Gabriel Allende, the founding architect of Allende Arquitectos, defended the importance of containers when talking about sustainability, "through projects that keep in mind a building's relationship with the street and its history, orientation and materials, as well as how to renovate to give buildings a second life, incorporating natural light, art and vegetation into interiors...".
"It's essential to go for designs that focus on user wellbeing through natural light, ergonomics, comfort and the innovation and technology of the building itself, giving rise to spaces that allow for connection and customisation, consumption optimisation, creating cultures of responsibility regarding the environment, while also encouraging learning and collaboration", adds Utopicus Architecture & Expansion Coordinator, Miguel Tello, who highlighted the growing interest in flex as a response to uncertainty and change.
Lexington Corporate Account Manager Maria Elipe spoke about the evolution of these flex spaces from 2020 until now, underlining how the demand for open spaces and flexible areas as it was two years ago, has evolved towards personalised and tailor-made solutions. "It's not a return to the traditional office, but a minimal division, with meeting rooms, phone booths and even private entrances," explains Elipe, who sees the flex space as no longer being a bridge to a new office, but rather a definitive solution.
The event showed how the way people work has changed and what the main trends in workspaces are, that take into account employee needs and which have also become essential tools for companies when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. These are places that create a sense of community, establish learning dynamics and enhance concentration, designed through participatory processes and where the environment, its equipment and people all play a fundamental role.
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