Here’s why communal workplaces will live on

The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown throughout the UK and the rest of the world has affected many aspects of working life. Most workplaces, particularly offices, have been closed and working from home has been a necessary alternative.

Whether using established home offices, or working from a kitchen table or a corner of an attic, many people have been surprised by how easy this transition has been.

Only in recent years, superfast broadband, cloud-based computing and conferencing apps such as Zoom have become readily affordable and accessible to the general public. Some experts are suggesting that working from home will become the future, and that offices will become confined to the history books.

However, I believe that communal workspaces play an important role in business, and I think they will live long after the lockdown ends and we have the freedom to choose once more.

People are social beings

Workforces are more productive when they’re made up of happy and contented people. (Faris Mousa: Evolving spaces) Individuals benefit from connecting with others, and that’s not as easy to replicate over video conferencing. People enjoy chatting about the weekend’s football, last night’s reality TV, holidays, the weather. Most of this personal connection has been lost in recent months – as evidenced by the number of people who couldn’t wait to swamp parks and pubs again after restrictions eased. People will welcome the return of sharing space with work colleagues.

Working together sparks creativity

Working in close quarters with others also creates the opportunity to share ideas and learn. Colleague who work together can quickly solve a small problem or combine their expertise to tackle a big project together. Maybe two people are working on separate projects, but realise they can work together to meet both their aims. One employee can be searching for a solution to a problem that a colleague has already solved. Problems are solved quicker in groups. And while some of this can happen via email, Slack and video meetings, these are limited by being formal and structured. Serendipity is a major factor that is lost when people aren’t sitting next to each other.

Home working is added pressure

Working from home relieves an individual of certain responsibilities. Commuting and wearing smart clothing are just two that are not missed by many. But it does present other challenges: maintaining your own technology, for example (not to mention those who live in areas with poor phone signal or broadband speeds). And if this new way of working was to become a permanent state of being, the kitchen table wouldn’t do for long. A dedicated working space would be required, which might require an extra room in the house, which will bump up future rent or mortgage costs.

Most workers want to mentally leave their work behind when they physically exit the workplace. Not only does a clear mind help mental health, stress and productivity, but there are many responsibilities which we generally accept are those which our employers should shoulder. Working from home comes with its own burden, and as the novelty wears off, this will become more evident.

The future of stadium architecture

As someone whose interests include architecture, football and live events, Faris Mousa love to learn about the construction of stadiums, especially those which are new, original and push boundaries in some way.

Faris Mousa also loves to travel, and visiting a new stadium is a fun part of exploring a city. The opportunity to do that has been severely restricted this year, but he has instead been reading up on some exciting advancements in stadium construction.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

The journey to completion may not have been plain sailing – the official opening was delayed by many months and costs reached £1bn – but most commentators agree that the project was worth it. Tottenham’s new stadium in London has been called “awe-inspiring” and not just because it’s beautiful.

Primarily designed to host football matches, it is easily converted into a stadium capable of hosting the regular NFL games which are played in the capital city. In addition to this, the complex also included a new school and new affordable housing, a great help to a deprived area.

The project proves that a stadium can be more than a space to watch sport on a Saturday – it’s a community hub.

Forest Green Rovers

Another stadium which endured a bumpy ride – and has yet to be completed – is the new Forest Green Rovers stadium designed by world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects.

What makes the stadium noteworthy, and one part of what is making planning permission so difficult to secure – is that it will be entirely made of wood. All materials will be sustainably sourced, which fits perfectly with the club’s green ethos. It has, after all, been named the greenest team in the world by FIFA.

It’s revolutionary as it stands, but no doubt environmental considerations will become increasingly important as awareness of climate change grows, making this project a pioneer rather than merely a one-off.

Munich’s Olympic Park

While many stadiums are given iconic designs that stand prominently on a town or city’s skyline, the architects behind Munich’s Olympic Park opted to go in the other direction.

Instead, they have done their best to blend the stadium in with its surroundings. Partially underground with a green roof and curves that help it hide within the surrounding scenery, it will be engineered to ‘complement’ rather than outshine.

This could mark a change in trends, a shift away from exuberant and proud to subtle and respectful of local residents (both human and animal.)

Augmented reality stadiums

The need for true-to-life fan experiences without the travel has been pushed to the forefront by the coronavirus lockdown, but the technology has already been around for a number of years.

The advancement in capability alongside the falling prices of smartphones could soon mean that pretty much anybody, in any location, can pull up a prime seat at any sporting event of their choosing, anywhere in the world.

Not only will headsets provide a fully immersive, 3D, real-time experience, there will be added features such as in game statistics, analysis and even the opportunity to pause, rewind and change camera angle.

It won’t be very long at all before the experience of visiting a stadium won’t even require you to leave your living room.