What is a social space?

Great question. Where once the Harrows tagline was ‘Made for Hospitality’ we are now ‘Made for Social Spaces’ to recognise what we see as a broader shift in the way people live, work and play.

We believe the lines between each of these activities (and the spaces that support them) are becoming more and more blurred in today’s hyper-connected world. We have compiled some of our research and ideas on paper to help explain why we made this decision, and how this will influence not only Harrows’ plans for the future, but also the future of NZ Hospitality/Workspace/Public/ Design.

As we know social spaces are becoming more and more common in the world of today. The rapid rise and integration of technology into our daily lives over the last few decades has meant that people can now be more connected when physically apart than ever before. This factor, and a fundamental shift to remote working following Covid-19 has created a heightened need for social spaces in the workspace, and changed the way people think about almost every other social environment.

With this in mind we could say that the social space is more of a concept than a reality, and that idea is the catalyst for some amazing physical spaces that help support and nurture the result of being social.

What is the result and benefit of being social you might ask? The most obvious response to this question is just plain fun. Many of us would associate the term ‘social’ with activities in our personal lives rather than in our work lives. But what about if we viewed ‘social’ as an activity that was interwoven throughout our daily interactions with others, and intensified and intensified depending on the activity we are doing? With this viewpoint the result of being social is far greater, as it allows us to see that it is really how we begin, explore, and grow in any pathway that leads to success.

What about when this idea gets applied to today’s world though? As we know the physical social space has always been there, but really it is the virtual social space that has been the catalyst for so much change. Technology now enables you to be productive from almost anywhere, which has meant that the physical space has had to rapidly change in order to cater for these virtual interactions. For our spaces outside work this has involved the integration of work-points for brief and occasional use. An airport lounge for example now has many places we can work from as well as socialize while travelling. Cafes have charging ports integrated into their fixed furniture to give space to someone doing some quick work on the run, and your public space i.e., a library/museum, hotel has changed its layout and format to cater for these users too.

What does this mean for our actual workspaces? It is well documented that the result of increased interaction between people and teams is increased productivity within any organization. Likewise, if you provide a positive environment to work in, employees are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and in return greater loyalty. These concepts are simple. But as we dig deeper we begin to understand that the more flexible approach to working is creating an environment that has a deep need to be more wholly collaborative and social. This need has been magnified since Covid-19 too with organizations embracing a hybrid model of working with much of the focus and learning time at work actually being done away from the office in the home environment. Unispace’s propeller model is one of the simplest models to explain the shift in the way we work. This shows there is a fluid approach where both the home and the office environment cater for each type of work, however the office is more strongly centered around social interaction and collaboration.

From a personal growth perspective, we acknowledge the value of interactions with others. The daily and incidental activity that can bring new viewpoints and information and help us to learn and grow. We are starting to demand better workspaces as employees, and a recent study by Mercer revealed that we are often putting permanent flexibility over a higher salary (however you do need to view this with a balanced perspective). Organizations in the current landscape not only need to be nimble and agile to keep up with a fast-paced business environment, but they also have the age old need to be able to attract the best employees. An agile environment with thoughtfully placed social spaces catering for a flexible performance based working approach is the most attractive option for today’s modern workforce.

So what is a Social Space? We hope this helps to give you a broader understanding of what we are thinking of when trying to articulate this shift. We have only touched the surface with this article – but it’s nice to be able to start the discussion. As you can see, the idea of a social space is far broader than first imagined. Being social is an integral part of being human and this means that all our spaces in some way have a social element to them. We are excited to view the significant impact that hypoconnectivity has had on the pace of change, and the way the design of our social spaces has moved to keep up with this.

The future sure is an amazing opportunity and it is the organisations that embrace the social space that will emerge as winners. 

Talk to our experienced team about how we can help enhance your social spaces.
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