Work Life Revolution

In today’s new modern lifestyle, we are mixing work & leisure in unprecedented ways

Design Anthology / Lane Crawford

The open-plan office has had a long journey. Since it was pioneered in the 1950s, mainly for junior-level employees, it has grown to become the norm for many companies, especially as it was seen to encourage collaboration and discussion.

And now it is becoming obsolete. Not just because there is mounting research showing that people find open working environments to be stressful and disruptive, but because people don’t work the same way anymore. In many countries around the world, a record number of people are self-employed — and they are choosing to mix work and leisure in unprecedented ways.

Welcome to the work-life revolution, where the boundary between personal and work life grows fuzzier by the day. You can see it in the co-working spaces that are popping up all over the world. Freelancers have been renting desks for decades, but this is something entirely different. One co-working space with locations across Asia offers a variety of working environments, from desks to lounges to private rooms. It’s like an office you can tailor to suit your own needs. There are also language lessons, game nights and weekend boat trips. Members can roam between locations — even cities.

All the better to suit a new class of digital nomads. Unburdened by paperwork and liberated by reliable internet connection in even the remotest of locations, many young entrepreneurs and freelancers are blending travel and work like never before. ‘I was up in the chopper flying over the Great Barrier Reef a few weeks ago — you do actually get reception up there — and I was answering emails on my phone as I was flying over a sand cay,’ the owner of a boutique marketing agency recently told The Sydney Morning Herald. Why spend your days in an office when you can be sitting next to the beach in Thailand, laptop and Wi-Fi dongle in hand?

There is even a new type of accommodation designed to host these entrepreneurial itinerants. Co-living spaces in cities as diverse as New York, Nagoya and Ubud offer freshly-made beds and lively social environments for people who don’t want to put down roots in any one location. This is more than just living with roommates; it’s shared living as a deliberate choice, not a compromise.

This new way of living wouldn’t be possible without good design. Co-working and co-living spaces are built around the idea of flexibility, offering a variety of working and living environments with plenty of natural light, interesting art and designer furniture. It’s domestic, professional and fun all at once. The revolution demands nothing less.

Text / Christopher DeWolf