From Site Selection magazine, January 2016
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‘We Don’t Care Where You Do Your Work ... As Long As It Gets Done.’
Good business and the good life keep running into each other, one neighborhood at a time.
Countries across the globe are experiencing a major population shift from suburban to urban settings. As cities prepare to accept an anticipated 2.5 billion new urban dwellers by the year 2050, a new concept for accommodating their needs is developing — the mixed-used urban community. These communities are evolving at the same time work is migrating outside office walls.
Mixed-use communities are co-mingling housing, retail, dining, entertainment and walk-to-work offices to enliven urban cores, encourage investment and development, and raise the quality of life for emerging urbanites. Developers are not only co-locating these various functions, but are also looking to break down the traditionally siloed approach to building design, and combining various activities under one roof. By doing so they are not only creating mixed-use communities with proximity, but enabling ease of future reconfiguration to accommodate changing needs of the populace.
The City Is Our Home, and Our Home Is the City
These new mixed-use communities are appealing to both the up-and-coming millennial generation, with their desire to work and live in thriving urban hubs, as well as retiring baby-boomers seeking to downsize and simplify their lives. Both want the same thing — ready access to amenities, convenience, proximity to the activity, and cultural experiences that mixed-use communities are designed to provide for us. The new urbanites are looking for communities that are walkable, vibrant, energetic, have adequate transportation, and which provide personal, social and professional experiences.
The emergence of the “24-hour community” has become a vital part of city renewals across the globe. Urban planners and developers are creating cities-within-the-city. By doing so, they are leveraging a mix of co-dependent activities within the same structures, and transforming buildings to include both daytime and nighttime use, and personal and professional activities.
The City Is the Office, and the Office Is the City
As part of the evolution of our work/life style, the workplace is undergoing some significant changes as well. Organizations have been on a quest to redefine the work environment as a powerful business asset and a place people want to be. For organizations to be successful today, we need to create human-centric solutions that reinforce and support a sense of place and community, and focus on employee fulfillment, not just employee engagement.
It is predicted that 40 percent of the population will be contingent workers by 2020. We are entering the age of the nomadic worker. Novelist John Le Carre once wrote, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” We are no longer designing offices where everyone has a designated spot that they are expected to sit at all day, every day. Workers of today are doing a variety of tasks that can vary from day to day. So what they need are options and choice.
The biggest mind shift regarding the workplace of the future is that work will be about what you do, not where you do it.
The biggest mind shift regarding the workplace of the future is that work will be about what you do, not where you do it. As a side effect to this new paradigm of work, the very purpose of an office will change. Instead of being a place that you go to for 40 hours a week, the office will morph into a place where you go to engage others. After all, work can and is happening anyway, and the workplace is becoming more of a connection point than the place you need to go. Our new mixed-use urban communities are focusing more on “workHOW” than “workplace.”
Lines between work and life are blurring so urban communities today are focused on empowering people with choice; engagement through variety; and designing human-centric solutions maximize health, happiness and performance. They understand that we are social beings and that we thrive on being part of a community; that we long for a sense of place; that we seek each other out and that we feed on the energy of communal spaces. Mixed-used urban communities meet the needs and desire of a population that is not only looking for, but expects genuine experiences with maximum accessibility and flexibility.
John DeLibero is director of public relations for Lendlease.