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London is becoming known as an international place of work and a city of innovation. It reflects the new thinking about workplaces and workspaces
The need for London to seamlessly function as a future megalopolis in 2020-2025 can no longer be addressed with 19th century practices nor 20th century mind-sets. London continues to grow as an international place of work and innovation, reflecting how the new thinking around workplaces continues to evolve towards new concepts and approaches.
Pushed by the Tech City concept of turning East London into the heart of the innovation future, corporates located within the M25 have begun to establish office colonies outposts in the area in an attempt to attract creative hires to their unattractively located corporations.
Amazon, which originally established its offices in the off-putting Slough seeking old corporate advantages like cheap rent and close access to Heathrow, recently confirmed their intention to occupy the entire 15-story building across the Tea Building, the pinnacle of startup offices in Shoreditch, as soon as it is completed in 2017. When human resources can no longer make a fat salary work as an incentive, it’s time to move the workplace to the areas that offer a work-life balance that allows employees to bike to work, to live locally, to be geofenced 24/7 in creative environments.
Still, solely moving to new creative hubs does not solve igniting innovation. The office of the future has to transform itself into a Human Hadron Collider, similar to the one that Ghery recently built for Facebook in Menlo Park. Conjuring serendipity in order to incentivise work collaborations and peer-to-peer inspirations is not a new architectural trick. It evolves from the original MIT Building 20 and the New Jersey Bell Labs of the 1940s where the unstructuredness of their interior designs indirectly became conducive to collaborations and the birth of many of the mid-20th century break-through technologies.
Being creative is about thriving when challenges emerge. The workplaces in the tech world are not comfortable places. They are not meant to have employees content with their 9 to 5 routines within individual cubicles, but rather present environments of high energy and unstructured navigation where people collide into each other instead of mingling around a water-cooler.
Clearly, not everyone in a corporation thrives when the comfort zones are gone yet a compromise solution has emerged in London within co-working spaces. Inspired by a pioneering project at Grand Rapids, Michigan where 5 non-competing corporates rented offices yet turned the shared ground floor into a product innovation playground for designers and product creatives.
Within the first 12 months the product ranges of each company evolved into commercial successes by just changing the office surroundings. Spaces such as WeWork are presently challenging the SME commercial space because everyone wants to work within creative and collaborative spaces mingling with companies of all sizes and sectors. Big things often have small beginning, but the workplace revolution has only just begun.
Inma Martinez is Chief Product Officer at Preadly, a data analytics company and one of the most engaged technologist in Europe since the 1990s, pioneering A.I., music streaming and IoT. Fortune and TIME have described her as one of Europe’s top talents in social engagement through technology, Red Herring ranked her among the top 40 women in technology, and FastCompany labelled her a firestarter.