Evolving Workspaces: Lessons From The iPhone vs Blackberry Battle

By Zac Goodman
News • Thoughts
27th March 23

When iPhone killed Blackberry – it killed the phone keyboard – not the phone category. Apple’s newer technology immediately changed incentives and thus consumer behaviour – overnight.

How does this relate to workspaces?

“The office is dead”, “There is a worker revolution”, “All companies will have distributed workforces”, “Cities will become worker wastelands”…

The amount of hyperbole in the mainstream right now is peaking. At TSP, we take a different and more nuanced view.

01     The desk is dead – offices are still used and will be for a long time.

02     Not everyone wants to work from home – but far more do and can since the pandemic. This is causing a seismic shift in office location, quality and offering.

03     There will be stranded office assets – which will have lost value where refurbing them sustainably is not viable. Or if they are in fringe locations where workers simply do not want to be.

04     As assets are stranded, use classes will change – for example, from office to residential. This will create a constrained supply of “in demand offices”, which will in turn support rental values and capital values as the investable pool shrinks.

05     Whilst there are major benefits to Work From Home/ Remote Work – there are also limitations. It is not the panacea it’s often touted to be – but an alternative mode of working which some businesses use to their advantage; enabling them to engage lower cost labour in more geographically disparate locations as well as retaining talent and reducing the need for some central costs.

06     There are zealots on both sides of this argument that are depicting this change in working behaviour as a war, a rights issue and in some cases, a revolution. It’s not – and on both sides there is a huge amount of confirmation bias.

07     Businesses do what is good for their bottom line. That of course means keeping and attracting great labour. If that means enabling remote work, they do it – but only where there is an incentive.

The fact is that ‘work from home’ as a totemic alternative to offices doesn’t incentivise everyone – otherwise that’s where we’d be.

At TSP, we build and design workplaces of the future – focused on how to adapt and respond to demand. We build solutions and spaces that people need and want.

In short, the desk and the 9-5 is the Blackberry keyboard. The office is the phone.

We all still use phones and will continue to – that is until something utterly disruptive emerges and compels us not to anymore.

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