How will the ideal office be like?

February 2015 | News

Overtime, working ways change

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Creativity, efficiency, productivity… are the words that we all dream about. We want the best possible way to combine our working and personal life while at the same time, dedicating the right time to each field. Much more family time than professional. For this, we need to be efficient, productive, creative and very hardworking.

Overtime, working ways change. 50 years ago to talk about teleworking seemed impossible. Today it is a reality that employs hundreds of thousands of freelancers. Working from home, coworking, from an office or even an airport. The place is less important providing we feel good. To reflect on the new models of offices, the ways of working and reconciling work and family life, Actiu has organised a round table in the Nude salon, Habitat Fair in Valencia. For this, it has brought together five entrepreneurs, all related to the world of design, architecture and journalism. From different aspects, but all with a common discourse on the importance of comfort and customisation of each space, they discussed the characteristics of a good workspace.

“Versatility and rigorous, these are the keys to a workspace that works", Luis Calabuig.

Luis Calabuig (@LuisOdosdesign), creative director of Odosdesign, works from his studio that he shares with his partners. For him the key words are flexibility and rigor. "More than in an enclosed physical space, the same for business activities which require versatility and proactivity, I understand that workstations are the same. We need flexibility and comfort. But always being very rigorous to meet the objectives. And rigorous to know how much to work and when to stop", explained Luis in his speech.

“The kitchen is fundamental to any collaborative space. It is there that ideas and synergies arise", Manuel Zea

Very focused on the coworking world, Manuel Zea is an architect and the president of Coworking Spain, the first online platform which brings together the various offers of coworking spaces in Spain. Manuel is a big believer in collaborative spaces, the synergies created with other entrepreneurs. “For me, a good workspace must have three key points: a work space which enables the movement of furniture and adapted to the needs of the moment; a meeting room to think. And a very spacious kitchen. From there all ideas and collaborations arise between colleagues", explained Manuel.

“A spacious, bright, changeable, cosy space with high ceilings. That is my ideal work space", Macarena Gea.

Macarena Gea (@macarenagea), an architect, an interior designer and wedding planner, is currently one of the fashion bloggers with more visits on the network. Furthermore, she has become a mother recently and understands the balance of work and family. "For me, the best place has to be versatile, so that it fits your life and needs change. In my opinion it is important to think about where you want to work, what type of activity you perform and analyse very well your way of working. From there, choose“, he explained. Macarena has worked in a multitude of spaces. In offices, in a shared space, in his own studio and finally at home. Now is in flux need to leave home and look for a place to grow professionally. "If I could choose to go my space it would be large, bright, with individual workspaces but also collective, with high ceilings, natural light and very cosy. Also a space that I could transform if I needed to, to do photo sessions, workshops or collaborate with more people on a day to day basis", explained the architect.

"A space like my home, where I feel comfortable, full of synergies, friends and collaborations", Borja García.

Borja García (@borjagarcia_st), an architect, industrial designer and professor from CEU, illustrated with images, the changes that have occurred over the last few years. “In the forties, spaces were rigid and the hierarchies were clearly marked. Now everything is the opposite. The workspace itself is not defined. You can work from any place”.

Borja decided some years ago to set up a studio and open it to more professionals like himself. He called it “The cloud” and this was in the Ruzafa neighbourhood. "There we were very happy. We converted that space into our home. It is flexible, movable, we do workshops as well as parties and meals. I agree with Manuel on the importance of the kitchen. In this every interaction, synergies and collaborations. Every day we speak, share and help each other. The balance for me is super positive. I couldn't imagine having a private space in the future, but the same but bigger", explained Borja.

"My house. With an office full of colour, a board to note down the tasks of the day and a reading sofa which enables me to change place", David Blay

“I do not believe in timetables or meetings.”, therefore David Blay (@davidblaytapia) began, journalist and writer of a book “Why not let us work from home?”. "I believe that timetables should be flexible and adaptable to the productivity of each one. How can we enhance the productivity of our workers? Leaving it to them to choose what time is better to work. Flexible hours but none the less rigor in achieving objectives. In a fixed working day, there are many times when we are not productive. We talk about changing the paradigm", he said.

David clearly advocates working at home. He is aware that not all people and jobs can, but there are many who do, and it should be the companies which include fundamentals of telework.

"For me any workspace, whether at home or in an office, it must have three fundamental things. One is the colour. Working in an office of a single colour is very hard, because it always looks the same, as well as seeing the same people. Another important thing is to have a good board in front of you constantly telling you everything you have to do, as well as everything you've done. That way, when you have crossed off everything on your to do list, you can have a beer, play with your children or just relax. And an armchair, a space where you are able to change scenery, read, concentrate, change positions", explained David.

"Pressure does not  allow us to enjoy moments of enjoyment at work", Luis Calabuig

With the start of the round table began discrepancies. The first was Luis Calabuig in response to David Blay: "I also advocate versatility and freedom. But later in the day there are deadlines, goals, pressures ... and you cannot enjoy reading on the sofa all day, even if I'm sure we could try to find "our place" to make the best of ourselves. For me, teamwork is very important, working from home does not allow sharing and finding synergies with our partners. "It's not the same to do a meeting by Skype as face to face. A look conveys much more and also creative capacity", explained Luis.

In that sense, collaborative spaces are ideal to find that midpoint. Manuel explained his views through a real case study, starting with his coworking space. "The first time we entered the space, the idea that came to mind was that we would like to work there with our friends. Not because we do not want to work, but because we would like to have a good time while working" he said. "In creating new workspaces we want to design atmospheres, work environments adjustable to each user in order to maximize their productivity. In coworking  it is necessary that everyone feels comfortable. Otherwise, one has to change space or return home", he explained.

"The furniture must give you a service without invading, with flexibility and leave it space customised to you. Everyone has to make their small home and feel comfortable", Borja García.

“The furniture is of great importance since it involves equipping your workspace. There are a number of key points that must be resolved. The first: comfort, which is given by the architecture and furniture. A physical and comfortable environment that allows you to be at ease. And another is order, fundamental in any space which is shared. We need furniture that with little effort, can vary their arrangement and which furthermore, can keep all our gear", explained Borja.

If you could design an office for 500 workers, what would you do?

David Blay: “With 500 workers we would have a big building with a running track".

Borja García: “A customised and comfortable space for everybody to be happy".

Macarena Gea: “A place where workers feel art and part of a space. Where they can decorate it themselves and customise their desks".

Manuel Zea: “Spaces with an atmosphere and a special character. And where the workers are able to vary the place: from the desk, a sofa...where they are more comfortable".

Luis Calabuig: “There isn't an ideal space for work. Everything works in a given moment for each person. The most important is to feel well".

In short, the ideal office does not exist. To design a suitable workspace we should think about the people who will use it. The variables to consider are endless, but the most important, and in those where different professionals meet, catering to the ability to customise spaces to meet user needs, seeking to excite and enjoy their work, while incorporating leisure activities that promotes health, creativity and communication.

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