A Bloomberg Business article that came out yesterday got us thinking about the future of the office.
It’s called “the Edge” and it’s a futuristic office structure in Amsterdam that’s basically the smartest (and greenest) building in the world.
Meaning, just about everything in the building is linked to a smartphone app that’s developed by consulting firm Deloitte. Basically, the design takes care of the small, annoying, trivial things – from where to park to where to keep track of your meetings and how much sugar you take in your coffee.
Thanks to this superconnected office environment, from the moment you wake up, you’re connected. The app literally holds your hand as you make your way though your workday. Meaning, the app checks your schedule; the building recognizes your car upon arrival and finds you a spot; when you enter the building, it finds you a desk; it even adjusts your environment to account for your taste in light and temperature.
But that’s just part of it (and not even the best part).
Apparently, a main focus at the Edge is on what Bloomberg calls “the best use of humans.” It’s achieved via an amazing new office concept called “hot desking.” And no, it has nothing to do with smoking weed (though that does increase the focus for some people).
Hot desking is essentially like a version of musical chairs, with fewer desks than there are people. In the case of The Edge, this means 1,000 desks for about 2,500 workers. Meaning, nobody at the company technically owns a desk. With a goal to “encourage new relationships,” “chance interactions,” and “efficient use of space,” the desks are assigned via the app on an ad hoc basis depending on who’s there at any given time. All employees are, however, given a locker – providing they can find an available one, as indicated by a green light.
Employees can’t get too comfortable with their lockers, however, as they’re encouraged not to keep specific lockers for days or weeks at a time.
No, this concept isn’t designed to make employees feel transient. Instead, the thinking behind it is the notion of breaking people away from their fixed locations and set ways of thinking – it’s all about changing it up. The idea is based on the Dutch philosophy and phase het nieuwe werken, which loosely translates into “the new way of working.”
Not to mention, hot desking can make the most financial sense in certain industries when it comes to cost reduction through space savings, especially at a time when real estate prices are soaring in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Naturally, it makes the most sense in workplaces where employees have flexible work schedules (and increasingly common occurrence as technology allows us to work remotely) and not working in the office at the same time.
Whether the concept is quickly adopted or not, one thing is certain: it definitely ensures workers don’t get “too comfortable” on the job. Plus, the gamble of wondering who you’ll sit beside for the day is kind of exciting, right – you know, like playing Russian roulette musical chairs every morning…