The world is in a state of flux. In fact flux is the operating keyword in today’s state of affairs. Everything that can be measured will be, and any data that can be extrapolated into a conclusion is embraced. Even the traditional notion of an office desk with a computer and In and Out trays is being questioned. Co-working spaces and hot desks are sprouting up in cities all over the world. In Singapore places like Collective Works and The Great Room have emerged in the financial hubs, offering a fast Internet connection, great views and an ergonomic chair for the travelling professional nomad.
But traditional offices won’t be going anywhere, at least if you want to get things done, according to a report published by the Harvard Business Review. The authors of the report found that being physically close to your colleagues meant that you would finish your tasks and projects up to 32 per cent faster. (We’re assuming that these people are on good terms with their peers.) So what does this mean for all of us? James JJ Acuna, architect and creative director of JJA/Bespoke Architecture, has been in the corporate cubicle as well as travelled the world as a creative nomad, and is in a unique position to tell us what he thinks the office of the future is like.
What’s your creative process like?
Travelling, taking tons of photographs, and writing about everything I see, taste, touch and smell on my blog is a form of research, which I feel is all part of the creative process. It means that everything that I like and that I’ve seen, I’ve processed internally and have come to understand what it’s all about.
How did the collaboration with Apple start?
The people from Apple knew about me through my design- and travel-focused website. They understood how mobile my lifestyle seemed, and when they found out more about how I juggled my life as an architect and interior Designer with that of a writer, blogger, and teacher, they asked if they could film my workflow. I said why not. Everything you see on the film is real and really reflects my daily use of a mobile computing, which contributes to my overall location-agnostic lifestyle.
Was it difficult not to have a physical rooted space to work from?
I started my company, JJA / Bespoke Architecture just at the beginning of this year after working hardcore in the corporate world as an architect for 10 years. So for me, much of the year “desk-free” was fine because I had three jobs on-going simultaneously in three different cities – Hong Kong, Manila, and Bangkok – for my consultancy. However, as we arrive to the end of the year, I’m finally getting an official office, within a tech-oriented co-working space called WeWork in Hong Kong; there’s only so much “hotdesking” in coffee shops I can take! That said it’s a small investment relative to how other more traditional architects set up their own studios.
What do you think the office of the future will be like?
I don’t know what the number is, but I do see more and more professionals within niche industries letting go of traditional office spaces because they don’t want start-up costs and overhead to hinder their service offerings or they just have to travel more than they do having to stay in one city, or a mixture of all these factors. It’s definitely hard to tell whether the market is leading mobile technology or vice versa, but the trajectory definitely points to having the office tethered to the body, rather than the other way around. It’s a good feeling to be a small part of this location-agnostic movement.