Local communities will not benefit from co-working spaces that are similar to Silicon Valley start-up culture. They should be part of a mixed-use development where they can become part of the community as an asset, generating opportunity for local businesses, new enterprises and start-ups, and having links with community groups.
Careful design and operational planning should focus on how facilities can switch function to broaden access and drive up utilisation during the times that the work activities typically dip, such as the weekend and weekday evenings.
- Places to collaborate and celebrate with elements that are suitable for quiet and private as well as at the other end of the spectrum, noisy and boisterous.
- Places where everyone feels connected, welcome, safe and inspired.
- Places that don’t depend on tourists but expand boundaries, facilities and capacity at seasonal high spots but equally continues to function and to meet expanded local needs, seeking out fresh innovations and staying relevant to the newly enriched community.
Fostering meaningful connection between local communities and the influx of investment and residents from the cities will help to smooth out any potential conflicts between locals and new arrivals and will also help smaller towns and their governments maximize the potential of the moment.
While we are rejecting traditional offices in towns and cities as desirable places to be, the creation of a new type of place within these destination towns is the key to successful remote working and community integration. It shouldn’t be aimed at trying to lure and facilitate monied out-of- towners without also being inclusive to the needs of the existing community. There is an opportunity for entrepreneurial town leaders to create solutions that fully recognise, create and take advantage of a newly drawn road map for long term economic development with a strong social, educational, economic and environmental benefits to what could be newly enriched communities.
Some organizations may well become virtual and hire physical space for specific events on a needs-only basis, others may shrink their own real estate footprint, others may well share their requirements and some may continue to operate parts of their operations with a daily physical presence by key staff. The principle change will be that few people will go to the office every day and instead use the centralized resource for training, networking and cultural investment activities. The central office will support a largely remote workforce, connecting solutions and outputs to clients and market led product development. It may be smaller, but it will be the cultural glue that holds businesses and organizations together.
There is a need for a different set of operations and a new set of solutions to emerge. The focus will be on delivering an exceptional experience for all users and visitors to the centralised office, whether they are physically or virtually attending. The emphasis will be on delivering high quality experience as a reward for user attendance as different solutions are created and different skills are needed.
The service sector that is currently dependent on commuter footfall will have to adapt, reflecting the drive towards high quality experiences over intensive periods of time visiting the central office.
It was unsustainable to return to daily time- consuming commute. The issues that were intolerable after the COVID-19 experience were magnified. We need to make sure that our new workstyles and work patterns are not exclusive and that we can tailor our solutions to meet a wide range of needs. One size didn’t fit all pre-COVID-19. We need to make sure we don’t swap out a rigid solution with a shiny one in order to embrace change.
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