Walk through the creative district of any city across the UK and you will notice a new phenomenon, hastily typed signs on the doors of coffee shops declaring a lack of Wi-Fi connectivity and discouraging the use of us laptops and mobile devices altogether.
Especially here in central London, these no-network cafes are becoming more prevalent as a market emerges for a space where instant accessibility isn’t just frowned upon, but impossible.
Coffee shops could well be described as the original co-working spaces, with an informality and flexibility that perfectly suits the development of fledging enterprises with minimal funding. However, as these businesses push back against their status as makeshift offices, start-ups that can’t afford the monthly expense of a formal co-working space could well lose out.
Furthermore, at a point in time when currency, appliances and now marriage certificates are moving online and accessible from anywhere, deliberately creating black-zones is as potent as the proverbial clog in the gears.
Developments such as smartphones enabling 24/7 email access, and more recently instant messaging in the workplace, means that coming ‘off-grid’ is something people are only able to do in their leisure time, which could well be why it’s valued so highly.
Whilst the surging popularity of AI home assistants and connected appliances seems to indicate a willingness to use connection to make life easier, it appears that this is only viewed as a positive for practicality, but that leisure time is best enjoyed unplugged.
This may herald a shift in how we see connection. Whilst tech aids productivity, efficiency and connectivity, these are arguably not aspects we crave in our down-time.
This pivotal moment in how we view technology is one of the many reasons I am so excited to be joining FieldHouse Associates and working with clients at the forefront of the shift in how we live and work. I for one am on the side of connectivity.
Keturah Prendergast @keturahprend