ARE FLUIDITY, COOPERATION AND INDEPENDENCE SETTING NEW GAME RULES IN RESPONSE TO THE JOB CRISIS?
In an increasingly difficult context, while the job market is saturated in many sectors, the developing mobile technologies and social networks are helping alternative models to emerge. Freelancing is preferred over the usual long-term employee contract, multiplying projects and occupations over the single expertise, teleworking over the dreary routine of commuting, work and sleep...
These many new models are integrating insecurity as a necessity. They also address a desire to break free from the mandatory Big Career. Breaking free from an overly linear, clearly marked out path, where one should hold a single, life-long "performance", sticking to the same job (or the same company, even the same place), moving up the career ladder one step at a time.
The new models of work, mobile and multi-committed, are based on continuous negotiations. Therefore, more flexible and self-fulfilling, they are re-sketching the physical and symbolic outlines of tomorrow's job market.Slashers and moofers are the new workers
New adjectives have emerged to describe them in the USA, where the trend is the strongest. That's a sign of how important these new workers are.
Here's a short glossary for future generations: two words to be remember...
"Slashing" derives from the typographic "/". It denotes people who have chosen to hold several occupations, different and enriching each other. Very unlikely combos are born out of these, such as: graphic designer/chef/yoga teacher, or: artist/baker, or even better: musician/stylist/journalist…
Coming from the Y generation, "slashers" have integrated two things: just like for Mark Zuckerberg, not only talent does not depend upon age, but insecurity is now a full part of the jobs' New Deal.
Therefore, much more than their parents have, slashers develop a strong entrepreneurship. They will multiply occupations and projects, without putting salary and professional accomplishment as the ultimate goals. They'll rather create conditions that are sufficient to lead both a professionally and self-fulfilling life.
Moofers were born with the Internet, and they haven't stopped growing ever since teleworking tools sprung up. At first a "creative class"-only phenomena (people working in the creative cultural economy, in such domains as technology, design, architecture and communication, ..., half of which are mobile, "out of the office", freelancers), many non-creative sectors are now seduced and starting to choose the moofing independence. Even though more precarious, it offers valuable benefits, such as freedom of spirit, freedom of movement, freedom of working hours, and more free time for one's family or self...Are co-working spaces the new generation offices?
While cooperation is key, independence and autonomy must not end up in solitude and individualism. New hybrid spaces therefore emerge, dedicated to these workers of a new kind. True "3rd places", better than Starbucks or any cafe with WIFI access, are "institutionalized", made into cooperatives, and rented on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis.
These collaborative "co-working" spaces, whether very informal or very close to a common collective structure of independent workers, offer independent workers the possibility to structure their random daily routine in a much better way. Allowing them to recover space and time frameworks, and to get some human interaction. In a word: all benefits from teleworking (proximity to the living place, independence, ...) mixed with the traditional offices inconveniences (trading and social areas), without their possible hazards.
For there is one huge benefit, in such remarkable places, where professionals with different expertise are gathered: the ever-brainstorming atmosphere. It broadens one's professional job network, beyond his or her unique set of skills. Ideas emerge, with the cross-fertilization of knowledge. Such as creativity, solidarity and sharing, which are highly endangered ideas, in today's classical company landscapes...
Here's a small review of the most innovating places:
- In Paris, co-working is at a very early stage but is growing fast, by judging only from the increasing number of independent workers there. "La cantine" (1&2) is a pioneer itself. On today's menu: a collaborative network space, workshop areas, meeting rooms and offices, with a cafe-networking corner. Its premium customers? Independent workers, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, researchers, students...
- In Stockholm, Coffice ("coffee"+"office", see pictures 3&4) is a young, independent workers' cooperative, where two different spaces are thinly separated. One half is for relaxing and informal talks, the other one, for work.
- As a demonstration of this global, strong trend, Buenos Aires also paves its way. With large, fully-equipped tables, meeting rooms, atmosphere all at once stimulating, friendly and cosy, the "Urban Station" (see pictures 5&6) is convincing more and more people in the Argentinian capital.
1. Betahaus, Berlin, Kreuzberg, www.betahaus.de 2. Sankt Oberholz, Berlin, Mitte, www.sanktoberholz.de 3.4. The « desknearme » and « Liquidspace » localization apps help American out-of off icing-workers finding a place best suited for their needs, with several criteria (proximity, price, size, hours…) 5. Nadelwald, Berlin, Mitte, www.nadelwald.me 6. Creative City, NYC 7. Paragraph, NYC
Berlin and New York, with their stronger, more mature trends, impose themselves as true laboratories of this work revolution. Not only do they have a number of unequalled "classical" co-working spaces (« Betahaus », image 1 and « Sankt Oberholz », image 2, have now become true institutions) but also workspace geo-spotting services (image 3 & 4), and "niche" areas emerge :
"Nadewald", designed for fashion professionals, shall open soon in Berlin. New York's "Creative city" (image 6) offers fully-equipped studios with pianos for musicians, while "Paragraph"(image 7) bets on a quiet atmosphere (no phones allowed), specially suited for writers.
A segmentation (by work type, by atmosphere) that already announces how these offices of the 3rd kind might be shaped like in a close future...