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A look back at the inaugural Social Workplace Conference, London, 2015

by | Oct 21, 2015 | Business, Design, Real Estate | 0 comments

Last Friday saw the inaugural Social Workplace Conference, an event that aims to create content and bring insight based on “strong models taking root in community managed workplaces to a wider audience of professionals from the real estate industry and corporate world”. Experts from the fields of design, coworking, finance, and corporate innovation all gathered in London’s design-centric shared office space, The Office Group, for a productive day of talks and workshops.

The Social Workplace is shifting the way we view physical space

Presentations addressed topics such as a non-traditional user-centric approach to architectural design, which Oliver Marlow from Studio Tilt, a design and architecture studio known for its unique codesign methodology, explored in relation to the current systemic changes taking place in the workplace.

Attendees at a Workshop, Social Workplace, 2015

Attendees at a Workshop, Social Workplace, 2015

Despina Katsikakis, of Barclays Corporate Real Estate, brought to light some important statistics taken from a recent Gallup study, which states that 80 percent of office space still hasn’t changed over the past 10 years, thus continually limiting choice and control.

Despina’s presentation offered alternatives to addressing how to deal with these setbacks, by comparing contemporary office space to cities. Like the urban environment, “the office of the future should act as a social condenser that is exciting, spontaneous, and non-linear”, she explained.

Social capital matters more than monetary gain in today’s work culture 

The general feedback from most participants was focused on an interest in the developing relationship between the corporate and coworking world. Alex Hillman, founder of Indy Hall, a successful coworking space based in Philadelphia, brought home the point that the Social Workplace Conference is a chance for people working in various industries to hear each other out and work towards actual change, not only in their offices, but also in their communities.

Edu Forte, founder of Betahaus Barcelona, discussed the process of cocreation. Through this process, the coworking model allows room for the community to develop the physical space as well as programs that meet their needs.

Stefan Kiss, who has been working in the office furniture industry for over 25 years, and Séverine Blanchard-Jazdzewski , executive of the Orange Digital Transformation program, brought up several point as to why corporations today might be struggling. Stefan discussed the relationship between design and the “human factor”, which he believes once more harmonious, will help transform the current workplace. As for Séverine, she talked about the ways in which companies can meet the need of their employees and their ultimate goal of transforming Orange into an incubator for new collaborative workspaces.

What does the future hold?

Nathan Waterhouse, OI Engine

Nathan Waterhouse, OI Engine

The Social Workplace wrapped up the day by giving attendees that chance to interact and participate with the speakers. Several workshops were given, tackling topics such as “How to create value from the social workplace model: Programming, events and cross-fertilisation to ignite culture”, led by Simon Pitkeathley of Camden Town BID.

The Final panel, which was led by Kursty Groves Knight, featured Tom Day, from Travel Tech Lab, Steve Pette of Central Working and founder of London’s Bow Arts, Marcel Baettig. As Kursty is an expert in helping organizations to cultivate progressive cultural and physical environments, the panel reflected on the day’s events, discussing everything from catalyzing a community, to monetizing the workspace through partnerships that work with one’s personal philosophy.

Overall, attendees expressed their excitement in regards to future events. As conference goers headed down the bar for a bit of wine and networking, Alex Hillman of Indy Hall, reflecting on the conference, remarked: “The Social Workplace conference marks the beginning of a conversion that needed to be had, but the most exciting part is what comes next”.

Presentations from the conference are available on Slideshare and also Linkedin.

Amanda Gray

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