Work should be more like university

Before you think this is a hyperbolic ‘future of work’ statement, or a radically ambitious design idea to attract ‘Millennials’ and ease their transition from education to work; it is about reflecting an environment which successfully promotes growth.

In CBRE and Genesis’s report ‘The Future of Work and the Workplace’ they conducted a survey of workers aged 23-29 across 11 cities globally. Through this survey the idea of comparing the experience of the workplace to that of university was drawn upon, and the subsequent findings brought to light a different perspective of the future of work debate.

One of the key differences between university and the workplace is that the former incubates self-motivation, with students able to control and determine their own learning and progression. This is not solely because of the access to the masses of resources and expertise, but also because of the variety of open and private spaces available for studying throughout the campus and dorms – this enables flexibility in how, where and when students can study and this is not generally mirrored in the workplace.  The current emphasis on the need for collaborative and shared space in the workplace is appearing in designs on a grand scale, but this shouldn’t be at the sacrifice of private workspaces. To find a happy medium maybe design can focus on removing the unnatural rectilinear layouts in favour of more organic ones that echo how people work and move.

Renowned architect Rem Koolhaas’s design of McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology is a work in organic mapping. Koolhaas observed where students walked and created a building that was irregular to the norm but that replicated the patterns their footsteps created. It isn’t necessarily about focussing solely on how we work in one place; the home, the office, a coffee shop, university, but recognising our behaviour in all of them. People are the constant here, so should we be avoiding moulding people into the space and instead create space which incubates the regularity of people?

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