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?

Let’s do some basic calculations. The average UK life expectancy is currently 78 years, minus say, 16 years basic schooling. That leaves 62 years. Let’s say you get lucky with your health and your finances and are able to retire at 70. That leaves 54 years. Subtract 20 days of holiday per year and that equals 1,080 days, which equates to three years give or take the odd duvet day, so that leaves 51 years. In crude numbers that’s over half a century spent working.

You can drill down even further. If you take the average daily commute as one hour 20 minutes, add the medically recommended level of seven hours sleep a night plus the seven hours 30 minutes you could spend as a minimum at work, that leaves only eight hours and 40 minutes a day for you to live a life. Now I can’t even remember the last time I only worked seven and a half hour day and would consider myself truly lucky to have over eight hours a day leftover for ‘me time’. When you break down your day into the major events you begin to realise just what a massive proportion of your waking life is spent in your workplace.

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, or ‘working alone together’ will redefine how a business functions. A small core of knowledge owners will be retained within the business but all other resources will be brought in on a project by project basis.

We are already seeing this happen across Europe and companies are offering a portal service for finding co-working opportunities. An open, shared collaborative workspace utilised by independent workers will become an accepted work model in the very near future.

Large international blue chip corporations are currently sponsoring some of these spaces as they have already realised the benefits of collaboration and networking that are core to the operation of these environments.

These spaces encourage innovation and forward thinking and it will become commonplace to find business’ working within the same industry side by side in the same pseudo coffee shop workspace.

The current aesthetic is very much a cross between a coffee shop and an office, which embraces the ethic of chaos. Interactivity is encouraged where ideas are exchanged and networking events are organised by a community manager, or new breed of mega administration person. So far feedback is more than encouraging as 86% of users say that it has increased their business network and 76% of users say that their production has increased.

So back to my original question, how hard are you working in your office? Well the answer is quite obviously far too hard. But fear not as change is in the air and if you have the right skill sets your work life could be about to get a whole lot easier and more flexible, your office a whole lot more engaging, and life just that little bit more bearable.

However, work will still take up a huge proportion of your life and that’s why the design of your workplace will remain important.