Money & Business

Is Your Office Space Killing Collaboration?

By / Dec 1, 2012 (Henry Steadman/Getty Images)

The trends that have given rise to coworking spaces are changing the traditional workplace, too.

Before you dismiss coworking spaces as a hipster fad for urban entrepreneurs, consider that they might be a sign of broader trends coming your way.

Some of these trends lie in infrastructure: The increasing power of mobile technology and cloud computing combined with rising office rents have made sharing flexible workspace both easier and more attractive.

But more influential may be demographic change. It won’t be long before members of generation Y outnumber baby boomers in the office, and they’ll bring their definition of “workplace” with them. In a study of generational preferences by office-design firm Knoll, Inc., generation Y rated an “engaging workplace” most important and “meeting spaces” least important—exactly the opposite of baby boomers.

These technological and societal shifts go hand in hand, and they are already changing many traditional offices. A poll of global senior IT executives by cloud-solutions provider Citrix found that a quarter of organizations have already adopted mobile workstyles, and nearly all of those organizations intend to “invest in redesigning the workplace to create a more inspiring, collaborative, and flexible environment.”

This will help offices support the new modes of collaboration of the people who work in them. Knoll’s report says generation Y values connection more than function: “Thus, they may desire residential-like scale, materials, lighting, and layout that make them feel comfortable and ‘at home.’ ” Indeed, a visit to a nearby coworking space might be a glimpse into the future of your association’s office.

Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki, manager of communications at the Entomological Society of America, is a former senior editor at Associations Now. More »

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