Terms such as 'innovation' and 'future office' are sorely overused in our industry.
Yet this office design concept displays a truly innovative approach to flexible, multipurpose workspace that really does have a place in the workplace of the future.
Watch this video of Heldergroen's offices in Amsterdam. What looks like a standard office space is completely transformed after the working day is finished:
(View from 1.28 to see the action)
Steel cables attached to wooden desks lift the furniture completely off the ground to leave an empty floorspace for parties, or activities like yoga and dance classes. Once elevated, the desks fit seamlessly into the overhead design of the space.
Most offices sit empty during the evenings and weekends, yet these offices - designed by Bright Green and built by Zecc Architects - demonstrate a forward-thinking technique to enable Heldergroen to maximise the use of their available space.
An approach like this would allow workspace operators to effectively double-up on their commercial space by whisking bulky furniture out of the way, creating a blank canvas suitable for any number of alternative uses, and thereby opening up the space to brand new industries and audiences. It certainly takes the 'pop-up' concept to a new level.
In this particular example, the space is commonly used after-hours for yoga and dance classes.
This brings to mind the issue of workers' health and the damaging effects of constant sitting and screen-time, which only intensifies as mobile technology leads to an ever-blurring line between work and home-life.
Various solutions are already circulating including standing and treadmill workstations, marketed to help improve workers' health, while some operators tackle this issue by integrating health centres and gyms into their business centres.
Imagine if, rather than taking up valuable space, your gym materialised after 6pm when office furniture - think coworking stations or even your front reception desk - is whisked out of the way. Not only does it save commercial space and allow you to offer health incentives to clients, it may also serve as an incentive for staff to finish punctually. After all if your furniture is set to scoot skywards at the end of the working day, what other choice do you have?
This design approach shines a spotlight on the 'dead' hours of flexible workspace. Many centres advertise 24/7 access as a key benefit to clients, but the majority of space is utilised during standard work hours. How many flexible workspace operators are seriously considering ways to better harness the potential of 'dead' space - those parts of your business centre that sit empty at night, in the twilight hours, and at weekends?
As we discovered in our latest MarketWatch report, July and August are traditionally quiet times for workspace operators. But what if you could revitalise those parts of the year by opening up your commercial space outside of traditional corporate hours, attracting potential clients in alternative industries such as entertainment, art, or health and fitness?
The flexible workspace industry is already a hive of multi-purpose space. Perhaps the next step in business centre design lies in finding ways to maximise under-used space beyond traditional corporate activities, whilst simultaneously offering real, tangible benefits to clients without losing valuable space. Real innovation is the key - and that's what will lead our multifaceted industry into the future on a stronger, more durable footing.