How PropTech Is Changing The Way We Work
We caught up with the team at NOMAD to hear how PropTech is changing the way we work today and in the future - from freelancers and digital nomads, all the way to large corporates.
You’ve probably never heard of George Nelson and Robert Probst. And why should you have? Their accomplishments in 1968 are niche knowledge to say the least, if not somewhat dull. George and Robert worked for a company called Herman Miller - the same company that now sells fancy office chairs and desks - and are credited with the invention of what we call ‘the cubicle.’ Back then, the revolution of the office space was underlined by a longing for the static. Offices were to be stationary and uniform, consistent with the rise in white collar workers at the time. Dubbed the ‘Action Office’, the designers came up with a concept that would screen off workers with shelving units and partitions to mark each individual’s private space. It was regarded as healthy, innovative and most importantly, productive.
And for a while, it seemed to work.
Today, the way we work is evolving once again. Now, the once revolutionary cubicles are seen as death-traps, as the ultimate marker backward attitudes towards work. As we discover new ways of working - from freelancing to remote working - our workspace is changing with us. New technologies, from the way we pay to the way we manage the office emerge to keep up with our pace. The rise of coworking spaces shows us just that. Designed to be open, versatile and dynamic, these new types of offices are encouraging individuals to embrace flexibility as a key factor in the way they work.
What coworking spaces allow you to do is book a flexible desk space that you can frequent as little or as much as you want. To avoid getting lost in the whirlwind of potential locations, platforms are being built to help and ease the process. These technologies, like NOMAD, are not only allowing users to directly browse the spaces they like, but consequently let them choose their next workspace through instant booking. The need for such services is a direct consequence of the growing number of startups and entrepreneurs that need flexible office spaces to grow their businesses. Without being able to afford long-term leases, they are looking to invest in short term solutions that grow with them as they expand.
The property industry is an age-old business. Until recently, it was slow to evolve and hop on the digital train. Nevertheless, the introduction of “PropTech” has has slowly but steadily begun to disrupt the property industry and NOMAD is at the forefront of it all. We’re seeing companies, brands and apps that deal with anything from lending and investment to property management and online agents. What they all have in common is the goal of simplifying the property market for the consumer. A big part of doing so is by tapping into the on-demand economy. Also known as the access economy, companies like Airbnb and Uber, are enabling users to choose access over ownership and flexibility over stability. As ‘middle-men’ companies, they arrange connections between users and product/service providers and curate listings based on quality.
A big sector emerging within this industry is flexible workspace. In the same way we enjoy booking at temporary flat through Airbnb, we want to be able to check in and out of work as we please. The 9-5 slog now seems dated as location independence and workation retreats are on the rise and employers are increasingly offering flexibility as a major perk. Employees - in particular millennials - are being enticed by the pull of such benefits, which include remote working opportunities and open plan office environments. Even larger companies like Cisco are now beginning to invest in coworking memberships across cities to offer their teams the freedom of choosing where they want to work from on a particular day.
Improved employee satisfaction and wellbeing that derives from such arrangements isn’t going unnoticed. A recent study by Deskmag suggests that 68% of people had improved focus since moving to a coworking space with 71% claiming they experienced an increase in creativity. The Harvard Business Review also found that coworkers reported levels of thriving at an average of 6 on a 7-point scale, which is at least a point higher than the average for people working in traditional offices. We find the same within our own NOMAD spaces: the networking opportunities, the sense of community and the bottomless coffee are all second to none.
One day, we might look back at coworking spaces the way we look at cubicles today: arms crossed, shaking our heads from side to side. But for now, coworking is responding to the needs of our (future) workforce: diverse environments, networking opportunities, flexibility and a sense of belonging. NOMAD just made them even easier to reach.