2016 was certainly a crazy year, one that none of us will be forgetting any time soon. The world lost many famous friends, mourned countless tragedies, and witnessed great political upheaval — but it’s not all doom and gloom. Over the past few years we’ve been moving away from outdated models of living, working and consuming, exploring exciting alternatives more aligned with modern lifestyles and values. 2016 saw many milestones for this era of ‘doing things differently’, including our own achievement in opening the world’s largest co-living space, providing Londoners with an entirely new way of living.
The world may have come out of 2016 battered and bruised, but significant positive shifts are afoot. There’s good reason to be optimistic about 2017.
Work is changing… largely for the better
As we’ve talked about before, there’s something of a revolution going on in the world of work.
Location independence // More and more of us are becoming remote workers, able to do our jobs from home or anywhere else in the world where we can catch a wifi signal.
Job variety // A more exploratory and experimental approach to life, coupled with economic realities, has given rise instead to the ‘gig economy’. People are moving away from full-time, long-term jobs towards ad-hoc ‘gigs’, short term employment opportunities that provide variety and mobility.
Employee happiness // By 2025, Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. They’re more picky about where they work, placing greater importance on fulfilment and work/life balance, forcing employers to create workplaces where people want to work.
We’re still far from a utopia as far as work is concerned: the gig economy lacks security and stability, and is vulnerable to exploitation as workers around the world compete for assignments. Automation in the workplace, another growing trend, is also a threat to millions of jobs worldwide. However, overall, the world of work is becoming much less rigid, giving people the freedom to create lifestyles more aligned with what they want.
Community’s making a comeback
Unfortunately, it looks like the so-called housing crisis won’t be going away anytime soon: homeownership is still entirely out of reach for many young people, and rental prices are still ridiculous. That being said, affordability is only one dimension of the crisis we face regarding the way we experience ‘homes’.
Value for money is another significant problem — especially in cities like London where you can lose the majority of your salary on a tiny studio or room in a shared house. The way we live is also far from ideal, as many housing options — from 1 bedroom apartments to 7 bedroom mansions — represent an isolated way of living, deficient in any sense of community. Scientific studies have documented the positive impacts of being part of a community on one’s health and well-being, and shown that loneliness can be literally life-threatening…. yet we’re living in a society in the midst of a loneliness epidemic.
But there is good news: as a backlash against unappealing housing options, exciting alternatives have emerged in recent years. Last summer we launched our co-living development, The Collective Old Oak, offering a new way of living built around community, convenience and experiences. At Old Oak, members get their own self-contained studio apartments, plus access to an array of shared spaces — a library, games room, secret garden, spa, gym, launderette, plus themed kitchens and an onsite restaurant and bar. Tapping into the new sharing economy model, this form of shared living affords members with more amenities and higher quality than they could afford on their own.
Perhaps more importantly, members have access to numerous daily events — exercise classes, dinners and drinks, film nights and more. Since it opened in the summer, Old Oak has blossomed into a dynamic community that, to a large extent, has created itself, as members have co-created with community managers to form an environment that has something for everyone.
Just half a year after opening, Old Oak is full, testament to support for new ways of creating homes, and proof that things can be done differently. Other alternative models similarly gained serious traction in 2016, including global eco-village projects and international communities for digital nomads.
Embracing the spirit of change
When you break it down, 2016 can be looked at as a year embodying a desire for change.
Fundamental parts of the human experience — the way we live and the way we work — have undergone a substantial overhaul. We’ve had the courage to challenge the stale models that no longer serve us, and made great strides with exciting alternatives.
TL;DR It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, but things are looking pretty interesting from here on out.