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50 Years in the Making: The Story of Flexible Workspace Evolution

50 Years in the Making: The Story of Flexible Workspace Evolution

Ray LindenbergFriend of the BCA and flexible workspace advocate - Ray Lindenberg - offers a historical perspective of the industry, explaining how the roots of the sector can be traced back to the 60s, perhaps even earlier, when social and cultural change began to sow the seeds of a new way of working. Ray's perspective offers a fascinating glimpse into how the industry began to take shape, all those decades ago, and how it is driven today by a ceaselessly shifting business landscape that, enabled by technology, is developing and changing faster than ever before. What will the next 50 years bring?

WANY -- The Workspace Association Of New York -- Salutes The BCA & Its Executive Director & Valued Friend, Jennifer Brooke

Different types of places and ways of working have been around for ages. The industrial revolution brought us the large plants and massive office complex models that served corporations, and ultimately the world, in grand fashion. It was built largely on the military model of disciplined and visually accountable work behaviors steeped in compliance, uniformity and consistency. It worked well then.

But a funny thing happened about a half-century ago … as a sidebar during a time of great social rebooting – a time not too unlike the massive paradigm reconfiguring that we’re experiencing in today’s IT-fueled universe. There were significant changes in attitudes, mores and values that were underscored by the anti-war movements of the 60s; the cradle-to-grave, loyalty-based employment standards of the day that promised toasters, steak knives and gold watches as incentives for retention started to unravel; and the media/TV explosion broadcasted to us (in the opinion of some) antiseptic versions of how families should ideally be structured and function, while at the same time brought to our living rooms the realities of war, poverty and mistreatment globally in ways that, up until then, were distant images.

At that time, conformity was getting a run for its money – and the evolving generations began to question everything… including authority, and the workway/work-style formulas that were passed along and largely uncontested. And within that backdrop were the seeds of a new way of working that gave entrepreneurs and dreamers a scalable, financially accessible chance at entrepreneurial victory, without relying on the funding of a rich uncle to serve as the safety netting for success. That period was not only the Age Of Aquarius in a sociological context – it was also the dawning of the first Collaborative Consumption and sharing economy business models that have become so popular in the more recent vintages, that came about with the advent of the Business Center Industry.

The hotbed of that movement, for much of the past century, has been, and continues to be, the Business Center and Alternative Serviced Workspace industry based in the UK, largely concentrated in the London area. And the guardians of this special work-way and workplace model that deserve to be lauded, which has given many dreamers a fighting chance and launching pad for success, is the venerable BCA – The Business Centre Association – the gold standard of organizations for advancing, protecting and promoting all the value and good that our industry does for the entrepreneurially-spirited, and for local and national economies, through the millions of businesses they have supported and nurtured worldwide these past few decades.

WANY – The Workspace Association of New York, salutes our many friends and colleagues in the UK -- and especially the BCA and its nonpareil, selfless Executive Director of many years, Jennifer Brooke -- for tirelessly leading the way, inspiring and lifting all parties, on all shores, to greater heights in our ever-evolving al


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