Work is no longer work. And travel is definitely no longer travel.
In the last five years, we have almost left the office for good. We are finally out of the office (OOO). But have found ourselves in a co-work space, a coffee shop, an airport lounge, or are we on the Utah mountain at Summit? We are at #werq, but also in real movement.
So now that we’ve embraced flexible hours and can work from the plane, or the beach where the WIFI works – who are we? We’ve evolved and now no longer need to enter a high rise building at 8:59 am, which we then start to leave at 4:59 pm. We travel and we work — and these two lovers have romanced in a way that feels uniquely contemporary.
The world is thus adapting all around us. And the travel space is rejigging, as we speak.
In fact, we are now question the very words “office,” and “travel” and what they could mean. Google the words “travel” and “work” and see the hours of dedication that’s gone into developing this new space of “beyond bleisure.” And notice how WIFI is a new free standard at all hotels, and brands like Kimpton are adding sofas and cozy lounge chairs for working on your laptop. Life beyond the usual hotel desk.
“Now, more-so than ever before, have the lines of work, traveling the globe, going to the office and life become blended together,” says Sean Harvey, Cofounder of WeRoam, a work remotely program that helps you to see the world without having to quit your job. “With the shift from work-life balance to work-life integration, this ‘always on’ mentality has paved the path for the workplace to be reengineered.”
NeueHouse, which positions itself as more than just a co-working space and more of a lifestyle, is pushing the edge of the envelope by creating spaces where collaboration and belonging is key to a work environment. And is opening up all over the globe for the lover of travel. And so, James O’Reilly, Chief Expansion Officer and Founder of NeueHouse, says, “The way the world’s most innovative people work has fundamentally changed, influenced by shifting cultural and economic forces that are fueled by rapid technology advancements, travel requirements and a deeply fractured social contract with large enterprises that once offered lifelong job security.”
Some think that “working from home” insinuates sitting on a couch in underwear watching Netflix — perhaps why Yahoo’s ex head honcho Marissa Mayer brought her staff back to the office. But research done by the University of Minnesota’s Phyllis Moen shows that happy people get to choose where they work from, travel more often and thus pump out all kinds of fabulous productivity.
And so, companies are starting to catch up to what employees are after. FlexJobs, an online service devoted to listing telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time and freelance work opportunities, released their third annual list of the top 100 companies offering remote working as a highlight. LiveOps, TeleTech and Amazon are in the top rankings. But there are also others, Amex just launched their BlueWork program – a “global workplace strategy” as they call it.
Work and travel never felt better.
Sawhorse Media, the technology company behind MuckRack and the Shorty Awards, are actively promoting remote work. “Allowing remote work has been a big factor in our rapid growth. By not restricting ourselves to hiring people who happen to live within a few miles from our office, we can recruit from a talent pool of millions. Even our team members who live near our office love the option to travel and work from anywhere in the world,” says Gregory Galant, Sawhorse Media CEO. “We believe remote work will become the new normal and will be demanded by all the top talent.” When Elon Musk colonizes Mars, we’ll travel and work there too.
But designers and real estate developers are also getting in on the action by creating the right kind of environments for new ways of work and travel to blossom. A+I, a New York based architecture firm, are specialists in designing for a new way of working – a perfect example is the lobby area in their MART project in Chicago. “Our designs create a purposeful variety of spaces to make room for serendipitous but immensely productive meetings, collaboration, or for privacy. We design for companies who value entrepreneurial-minded individuals, whose needs change throughout the workday,” says Brad Zizmor, A+I founding principal.
The Kilroy Realty Corp is taking exactly this type of thinking and promoting the future in holistic ways for the person on the move. “The modern-day office is becoming a destination with on site restaurants, fitness facilities, shops, bars, outdoor space, and public art,” says John Kilroy, Chairman, President and CEO of Kilroy Realty Corp. “Our focus at Columbia Square [Hollywood], for instance, has been to develop this type of innovative, amenity-rich, collaborative community that allows fashion, media, tech and entertainment companies to stay relevant and attract top talent.”
And that’s why Kelly Wearstler designed Proper Residences opened right in the Square — the traveler who’s in Los Angeles for work can plug into everything the Square offers, without having to feel like a silly outsider. Columbia Square’s public space shows “Psychogeographies” Los Angeles –– Dustin Yellin’s first permanent public outdoor sculptural installation in its courtyard — and that’s where everyone hangs together: from Fender’s HQ folk, Neuehouse members, to lunch-goers at Sugarfish. One small step for beauty, a big one for work-life ambience.
And so, as we enter the new grey area of work and travel, “the office” and what work means, the opportunities to belong somewhere in a shared space with others (here, or abroad, or in the skies) are absolutely the future. Finding what works for you, is the new work.