The workplace, where it is, what it does and what goes on within it is clearly of fundamental importance to our future physical and mental well-being. To examine the human interactions of the workplace is a task that I believe Oasis is particularly well equipped to do.
But a ‘workplace’ has significant tangible attributes which themselves interact with personal complexities.
For example the journeys between home and work create a major structuring element of all urban areas. The nature of the human body itself which requires rest and relates to daylight, influences traffic peaks morning and evening upon which the capacities of transport systems depend. Movement in itself is a major contributor to the eco-efficiency of the places in which we live and work.
So to consider the ‘Workplace of Tomorrow’, the nature of work, job, location, financial reward, skill level, and many other factors, all relate together – none of these individual things can be omitted if we are making considered recommendations as to what the ‘Workplace of Tomorrow’ will look like.
Couple that thought with the consideration ‘if People and Planet matter’, then other factors are also important. One such factor is that we live at a time of exponential change that is rarely predictable, so ‘the management of uncertainty’ leads to workplaces which readily adapt to change or which are rapidly changed (demolition and renewal for example).
There has been much study from the 1980s (particularly in America and Scandinavia) of the design of workplaces which maximise human interaction and are eco-friendly. A recent example of this locally is Bradford Ecoversity’s ‘reCentre Building’.
However, one rapidly emerging area in which Oasis could make a major contribution is the debate around demand for more homes, particularly around London and within the initiatives of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’. In popular debate about these matters, it is homes which are considered important but those who live in homes require jobs, the jobs are in workplaces and, as described before, the relation between these two is a major structuring element for what is planned.
The skills and processes practiced and taught by Oasis are essential to working with the agendas and prejudices of every group involved. NIMBY’s, City Councils, business leaders, politicians, specialists etc.
These are some of the more tangible aspects of the ‘Workplace of Tomorrow’. Consider now the issues which relate to the less quantified aspects, the effect of the environments created within the Workplace, those created by the workplaces themselves and the stresses and opportunities for more satisfying and fulfilling environments which could be created.
We could think too of creating ‘Garden Cities’, ‘Eco-Cities’, Co-Housing New Villages and revitalised existing urban and rural areas. But all these rely on jobs, workplaces and economic stability to be fully people and planet friendly. There is a great deal of work now going on to propose the best ways of working with these demanding and complex concepts. We have learned something of working with the whole person – now we have to learn to work with whole environments. Oasis’s study of the ‘Workplace of Tomorrow’ should be part of this. To be fully meaningful the aspects described here must also be an integral part of that study.
Bill Berrett was an Architect, Planner and Urban Designer who was Director of Planning for Milton Keynes where many new workplaces, new homes and green environments have been created. He supported Oasis and worked with Bryce Taylor encouraging Oasis to become involved with the Environment and with Global Care for the Planet. For more information about Bill, please visit his website: