Friday, December 16, 2016

Sharing work-space, co-working etc

Headline news in a couple of the morning papers in France today - a huge development of the former offices of Areva into a series of short-term rented offices and workspaces.

Nothing new here though, if I look back at least 30 when I lived and worked as a freelance writer and PR consultant (from home) in Central London. The Barley Mow Workspace in Chiswich was well establised and I remember going to visit it, as well as a shared open space in the heart of Covent Garden where a PR colleague had set up his office renting just two or three desk spaces.

All this was well before the invention of co-working, crowd-funding - although felixible working hours,  part-time and shared working, and of course freelancing were well established in the UK, well ahead of France who are now discovering all these alternatives as something new.....

As early as the 1980s experts like Charles Handy were already talking of portfolio working - which he described as a work life based on changing employer or jobs, even one's profession at least six times in our lifetime, interspersed with unemployment, time off for a sabbatical or studying.

My modest contribution* to the debate was written in 1991 and picked up a lot of these themes. I earned my two degrees by part-time study while in my fifties.

PS Since I wrote this entry, new research from America (where else?) indicates that after all, open plan offices do not contribute to better working and increased output! Most are disliked by users, who find that any 'collaboration' generally means a distraction and is not helpful, destroying concentration for an average 20 minutes. Some firms are now reverting to old fashioned smaller offices - 'with a window and a door' according to one boss - and find that productivity has improved significantly. When a discussion is required, moving to a special conference room helps prepare the brain for the business in hand, according to one psychologist.

* 'Europe's New Business Culture' Peter-Danton de Rouffignac, Pitman, London.

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