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18 January 2019
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How the office can survive into the future    

30 March 2015  

There still seems to be a view that we provide buildings – offices, hospitals or warehouses and that people come to these places to do things there, blogs John Bowen.


And in the case of an office there is a view that we no longer need them, that the technology of today makes many jobs independent of a traditional office base.


That is true in some cases, but the problem with most of the arguments of that principle is that they treat the building and what goes on in it as separate entities.


What we should be doing is to look at the building and what goes on in it as an integrated process. This is the way that, for example, a modern warehouse or retail site works and demonstrates the principle very effectively. They may not be especially attractive, but their form suits the function that they serve.


It isn’t just about the design of the building, for although many architects will talk about how they have designed spaces for moving people or using light. Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Two has been in the news for both of those factors – and I would agree with the latter point if not the former.


But design is merely one point in time and times change. This is where good facilities management can make a difference in that they can keep adapting the building over time as changes to need and process occur.


Although the office as we know it now is a relatively recent concept, there have been buildings where people have gone to work on administrative tasks for millennia; all of the old civilisations had centres of government, for example.


So is the office about to die out? I doubt it. It will continue to evolve and the best examples will be those that are capable of adapting most quickly to the changing needs. They will be the offices that are operated as part of the process that they serve and are continuously developed to be integral to that process as it changes over time.

John Bowen is an FM consultant