Nov 26, 2019 in Viewpoint

3 statements with Midori Ainoura about the future of work

For our new series of interviews about the future of work, we had the pleasure of talking to Midori Ainoura. Midori is a partner at PLP Architecture, the company that designed the well-known The Edge of Deloitte. PLP is currently leading in the design of the office buildings at Bankside Yards in London, which will be a new place for work, life, and leisure. We challenged Midori with 3 thought-provoking statements about the future of smart offices, and she inspired us with her thoughts from an architectural perspective and a more global vision.

Anne Wernand
by Anne Wernand
Midori Ainoura
Midori is a partner at PLP Architecture, the company that designed the well-known The Edge of Deloitte

Smart technology is something for the big offices of today. This technology will be moving towards more medium-small enterprises within 3 years

"Yes! Europe and the United States will lead the way. Asia, for example, may take a little bit longer. Countries in Asia, like South Korea and Japan, will observe what is happening carefully and then make the transition quickly.

Corporates are nowadays already looking for new workplace strategies. One of the main questions I hear before starting a project is: how can we help employees connect to the workplace and each other? Smart technology is the answer. And smaller companies are going to experience the same challenges in the upcoming years. However, at this point, this kind of technology can be relatively expensive to afford. I do believe the scaling opportunities for these products will become better. This way, it will also become available for smaller companies. And how we can collectively share smart technology will be key."

Privacy worries are going to be the reason for stagnation in the development of smart offices

“It can definitely cause some disruption. Especially when we talk about personal data. But this is the kind of data we need, to give employees personal suggestions throughout their day. The collected data can help employees significantly in their daily office life, and when they experience this, this kind of data no longer needs to be scary. If we can communicate this in a transparent way, and sum up the benefits, privacy shouldn’t be an issue. It will be a personal choice. But this is also bound to culture and government. I would say that in China, this wouldn’t even be a debate or discussion as it is in Western society.”

We’re never going to find a quantitative number that can define the level of productivity of an employee

"I disagree. There are already numerous quantitative studies on productivity with built environments. Natural daylighting, natural ventilation, individual thermal control and indoor air quality for example. We are planning to carry out a research study on “monitoring and assessing occupants’ mind and body conditions and built environment conditions”, using wearables. Together with a university and neuroscientist, we hope we can establish a practical methodology and share our findings soon.

Another thing I believe can measure productivity is the support of collaboration. At almost all our projects, we try to create spaces for interaction. We evaluate volume and visibility and strategically locate amenity nodes where employees can gather and connect. We design those areas in a way it encourages employees to stay. Because we want employees to bump into each other; communicate more and share ideas. To create more meaningful and effective interactions, smart technology such as social networks and spatial analysis can help. You can connect people based on their interested topics. In one of our biomedical science projects, we implemented scientists’ interactions, which did not happen before in their closed labs. The result: new scientific discoveries have been increased significantly and lead them to a novel prize in the institute this year."

More about the future of work?

In this series, we’ve already asked Philip Ross, founder, and CEO of Unwork.com and WORKTECH, these 3 statements. Curious what he thinks? Read his thoughts here.

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