Do you know how hard you are working in your office? I don’t mean the grudgingly worked lunch hour or the extra two hours at the end of the day. I mean how hard will you be working in your lifetime?

The average UK life expectancy is currently 78 years, excluding 16 years of schooling. Assuming retirement at 70, that leaves 54 years. Subtracting 20 days of holiday per year (equivalent to around 3 years), we have 51 years. This amounts to over half a century spent working. Factoring in a daily commute of 1 hour and 20 minutes, along with recommended sleep and work hours, we are left with just 8 hours and 40 minutes per day for personal time. This highlights how much of our lives are devoted to work.

That dreaded commute

It also appears that we are all wasting our time commuting. It’s been calculated that the average commute across Europe is 41 minutes each way. However that’s not the whole story. It’s also noted we actually want to commute - ideally 10 to 20 minutes - as we like to prepare or wind down before and after our workday. All added together it’s easy to see how the design of your workplace can have a huge impact on your life and how choosing your work environment will directly affect your well-being.

However, change is in the air as staff and business loyalty is decreasing. Currently, there is a huge imbalance between skills and employment levels and it is difficult to fill vacancies due to lack of appropriate skill sets. This is not just a UK wide phenomenon; France in particular struggles to fill available employment opportunities. It seems that people are not trained to undertake specific tasks hence the odd situation of raised unemployment levels and job vacancies. In the very near future we will see companies no longer hiring workers but hiring skills.

Business functions today are such that an efficient workplace should be designed to have no defined boundaries. The emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil will take up a flexible model of employment and will not accept the traditional full time employment model that is the norm in the West.

Working alone together

The co-working model, also known as "working alone together," is redefining how businesses operate in 2023. Rather than maintaining a large permanent workforce, companies are retaining a small core of knowledge owners while bringing in other resources on a project-by-project basis.

Across Europe, this trend is gaining momentum, with companies offering portal services to connect individuals with co-working opportunities. Collaborative workspaces, where independent workers come together, are becoming widely accepted as a work model for the near future.

Recognising the benefits of collaboration and networking, large international corporations are sponsoring these spaces. The environment encourages innovation and forward thinking, resembling a cross between a coffee shop and an office, embracing an organised chaos aesthetic. These spaces foster interactivity, idea exchange and community-building through networking events facilitated by community managers or a new breed of highly efficient administrators. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with 86% of users reporting an increase in their business network and 76% noting improved productivity.

While the changing landscape offers the promise of a more flexible and engaging work life, it's important to acknowledge that work will still occupy a significant portion of our lives. Therefore, the design of the workplace remains crucial.

The shift towards co-working models highlights the value of collaboration, networking and flexible workspaces. This evolving paradigm offers the potential for an easier and more enjoyable work life, making the workplace design a vital consideration.