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Shaping Our Future Workspaces


Wednesday, 24th August 2016 at 11:05 am
Mike Davis
What should future workspaces look like to enable thriving, high-performing teams and cater for employees who value purpose over profit, asks Mike Davis, founder of Purposeful.

Wednesday, 24th August 2016
at 11:05 am
Mike Davis


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Shaping Our Future Workspaces
Wednesday, 24th August 2016 at 11:05 am

Opinion: What should future workspaces look like to enable thriving, high-performing teams and cater for employees who value purpose over profit, asks Mike Davis, founder of Purposeful.

Two people with laptops back to back in workspace

Employers today are facing a torrent of trends threatening to disrupt the future of the traditional workplace.

Recent scaremongering about the automation of the workforce and traditional roles no longer existing in a few years, would have us believe that we will all soon be replaced by “automatons”!

This is certainly not the case, but there are some emerging trends worth thinking about for business owners. Some of the key emerging trends to focus on are:

  1. millennials emerging as majority segment of workforce
  2. the growing social enterprise and start-up sectors
  3. a desire to work in social spaces where creativity flourishes.
  4. Recent research indicates that by 2020 millennials will be the majority segment in our workforce (42 per cent). At this stage many millennials will also be in senior decision-making roles.

Millennials are a different breed to their predecessors, not merely happy to grind out long days to make money. Rather, they strive for purpose over profit and want to work in roles where they can make a difference. They want an authentic connection to community and to see their impact.

So it is incumbent on workspaces to ensure that millennials can see that they are creating social value and community impact beyond the profit bottom line as part of their role at work. Millennials want to see the change they are contributing and to feel a sense of purpose and mission at work.

  1. The social enterprise space is booming in Australia, as is the startup sector. There are now countless incubators, growth and funding programs available to support startups and social enterprises.

The establishment of Launch Victoria and the Victorian Government’s $60 million investment in growing the startup ecosystem in Victoria is testament to the importance of this sector to the economy.  

There has never been a better time to be an ambitious young person with great ideas that can impact many lives for the better. The recent B Corp Leadership Development day and Social Traders Masters Conference highlighted the extensive and impressive youth leadership in this space.

As reported in Pro Bono Australia News, The Foundation for Young Australians’ booming Not for Profit incubator – Young Social Pioneers Program – now has 200 young changemakers in its program. The passion, intelligence and drive of these communities of purpose are inspiring.

In the face of this emergent social enterprise and startup ecosystem, workspaces have a challenge on their hands to ensure that top talent does not simply leave their traditional workplaces.

A key part of this is in ensuring that innovative ideas are encouraged and championed at all levels of the business. Business must re-focus toward inspiring great performance by creating a trusting and collaborative environment, where purpose is fostered and rewarded.

  1. Co-working spaces have emerged rapidly across Australia. I can count at least 35 that exist in Victoria alone. A newer form of social working arrangement that I believe will take off is the “hoffice”.

I first heard of the hoffice during a wonderful TEDx talk by Dr Agustin Chevez, who specialises in designing productive and collaborative social workplaces. The Slow School of Business established one of the first hoffices in Australia in Victoria in 2015.

Benefits of both coworking and hoffice arrangements are that they provide social working environments, where networking, learning and growth are most likely to occur. They are ideal environments to build relationships and collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations.

The reason for their success is certainly related to our desire to work in social environments, where we can interact as much as possible with like-minded individuals and collaborate on great ideas. They also optimise creativity through their design, which is critical for those breakthrough moments we all want to experience!

Traditional workplaces can learn a lot from coworking and hoffice spaces about what the workspaces of the future will look like. They will almost certainly be more social, with fewer boundaries and designed to be more conducive to creative thinking and collaboration.

The challenge is in changing how we currently work to embrace collaboration, group learning, co-design and draw from the wisdom of our crowds to produce great ideas, work environments and performance.

About the author: Mike Davis is the founder of Purposeful, a social impact advisory dedicated to empowering businesses to grow their social impact and performance by adopting a purpose-driven approach to community, partnerships, strategy and people and culture. Mike is a former health, social and public policy adviser. Recently, he has worked as a senior advisor in government and has a Masters of Law (Human Rights). He is interested in business and social impact strategy and innovative approaches to social value and wellbeing measurement and evaluation.

He is a board member at the Awesome Foundation Melbourne and a recent facilitator at Peer Academy. Start a conversation with Mike on mike@purposeful.net.au.


Mike Davis  |  @mikedav84

Mike Davis is head of strategy at TaskForce Community Agency. TaskForce is a not for profit, supporting youth and adult clients in their recovery from alcohol and drug issues in Melbourne’s South East.


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One Comment

  • Avatar Avi says:

    Hi Mike,
    Great article. Just a heads up – there are many more than 35 coworking spaces in Vic! Check out 99spaces.co – we have more than 60 listed just in Vic!

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