If Work Is Digital, Why Do We Still Go to the Office?
What early digital commentators missed is that even if we can work from anywhere, that does not mean we want to.
We strive for places that allow us to share knowledge, to generate ideas, and to pool talents and perspectives. Human aggregation, friction, and the interaction of our minds are vital aspects of work, especially in the creative industries. And that is why the quality of the physical workplace is becoming more crucial than ever — bringing along watershed changes.
We have already witnessed the transition from the mid-century warren of cubicles, ridiculed in filmmaker Jacques Tati’s Playtime, into more sociable, open, dynamic, and flexible spaces. More recently, coworking has gained traction, demonstrating the value of sharing a space with a community of like-minded people. Like traditional university parlors, often credited for world-changing discoveries by the Oxbridge crowd, these spaces are open to different disciplines and promote vibrant interaction and ideation.
Innovative companies such as WeWork provide offices “where and when we need them,” giving professionals the opportunity to be part of a curated network and to share intellectual and physical tools. They also bring to the table a solid financial argument (highlighted by WeWork’s multibillion-dollar valuation), as they can maximize profit per square foot by trading one big tenant for many small ones. Drawing an analogy to banking, they rent long and lease short.