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Sustainability in Business: Thought Piece

Think legacy, not heritage

Sustainability in Business: The Office Space and Cathedral Thinking
Sustainability in the workplace is about so much more than just reducing your impact on the environmentIt can help your business become more resilient and productive, save on costs and help you make better decisions. In turn, you can build a more loyal customer base and reduce staff turnover to achieve long term goals.

Lexicon defines business sustainability as ‘managing the triple bottom line – a process by which companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities.’ Businesses that survive shocks or surpass obstacles do so because they are well connected; they have a fortified economic, social and environmental network around them. Those with active and established networks forge strong ecosystems and communities.

Cathedral Thinking
‘We should all be involved in unfinished work,’ – Rick Antonson Just as the cathedrals of centuries past were built over many hundreds of years and by generations of stonemasons and architects, we are challenged anew to consider working towards solutions and achievements that we won’t necessarily live to experience.

This long term, or Cathedral Thinking, is a challenge for those of us who have worked through the ego-centric and self-serving attitudes that characterised the 80’s and 90’s. Increasingly, this viewpoint is becoming out of step with today’s broader, more evolved, mindsets. The Office Space has been in operation since 2004 and, whilst hardly the impressive span of decades that a cathedral represents, in the serviced office industry where faddish co-working spaces seemingly crop up overnight only to disappear within a year, we have clearly staid the course… and will continue to do so.

Naturally, part of this success is our strategy to invest in the quality and calibre of our office fit-outs and design pieces, time-honoured classics such as the Eames Time Life chair or the mid-century Via Dezza chair by Gio Ponti.  This imbues our spaces with an integrity and aesthetic that is as beautiful as it is inspiring to work within. We attribute a large part of our longevity, however, to our investment in the people and programs that enliven our spaces.

We champion the essential integration of Commerce, Community and Culture within the workplace to ensure we provide opportunities to enhance both work and work-life balance. Our events and activities offer business insights, informative experiences and networking opportunities for our internal residents and for external sole traders and businesses. The clear intent is to encourage inter-business exchanges, community dialogues and, of course, avoiding the proverbial dullness of an ‘all work and no play’ existence. What we also create, however, is an opportunity to get to know our clients and their businesses.

Our success is aligned with their success. We are vested in them and are cheering for them. 
We introduce, connect, motivate, encourage, listen, refer and recommend as they seek to achieve their business goals. Ironically, we are perhaps proudest when businesses outgrow our space to take on their own. Testament to this is our alumni of ‘graduate businesses’ who’s journey we continue to follow.

To quote Lexicon, by ‘understanding opposition, finding common ground and involving stakeholders in joint decision-making,’ we are able to support those who support us, and move forward, sustaining our businesses together.

The key to business sustainability
At a recent 2016 Trend Briefing, The Future Laboratory, a world-renowned and respected futures consultancy, addressed this question head-on and outlined key ways to make your business sustainable through the following mindsets:

Be proactive, not reactive ‘Consumers will increasingly expect services and products to be tailored to their emotional and physical needs,’ – The Future Laboratory. What you produce by this logic should be produced in conjunction with what your key stakeholders identify as wanting or needing. They predict that trends towards personalisation will reach new heights, with products being formulated from scratch to maximise their suitability for the individual as opposed to the masses.

Think legacy, not heritage ‘The brands with the strongest legacies will be those defined by their ability to adapt to changing times.’– The Future Laboratory. This is where Cathedral Thinking comes into play. Our monthly talk series Insight, for example, brings together business insights from inspiring and engaged thought leaders across various fields including design and architecture to discuss the evolution of their business strategies and brand. Held monthly after office hours, this is an exchange of ideas forum that includes drinks and canapés to encourage interaction.

Target Mindsets, not demographics ‘Facilitating cross-generational interaction and fertilisation is a must… finding new ways to engage with consumers throughout their lifespan, rather than narrowing themselves to a brief biological bracket,’ – The Future Laboratory. By diversifying what you do as a business, you are able to better communicate to your community. Insight creates an informal forum for exchanges between ‘extraordinary individuals,’ and the broader business community. We get behind these people, and in turn they get behind us. We learn about evolving legacies and equally, help shape them.

Be a brand (straight up) ‘Brands must be obsessed with supporting real culture and championing extraordinary individuals,’ – The Future Laboratory. The key tip is to ‘market fast and brand slow,’ – ibid. It’s about building agility and flexibility into your business, leaving room to innovate and deviate towards new short-term goals. This idea is key to the legacy of The Office Space, and to the sustainability of our business.

Our blog is updated on the first Monday of every month, tying-in events and happenings offered exclusively to our residents and external businesses, yet always aligned to a theme (such as Sustainability in Business this April) and also via EDM. Throughout the month, we regularly upload profiles on our industrious residents and share skills, tools, tips, and forecast trends on our website.

Sustainability is a concept that has evolved beyond the successfully managing of our natural environment to now include the longevity, quality and connectedness of our social, commercial and even our digital microcosms.

The Office Space provides a business ecosystem that supports start-ups and SME’s, and facilitates organic and symbiotic collaboration between businesses.

To find out more about The Office Space’s Engagement Program, please click here.’ We hope to see you at our next Table, Social or Insight event! We promise no “curated” menus, “artisanal” breads, “bespoke” experiences or other hipster exploits.

Let’s welcome the arrival of the Yuccies (Young Urban Creatives) and celebrate unique identities, not trends.

The Office Space Images:
Icon: La Sagrada
Familia: WIKI
Header: From Future Laboratory

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