Office of the Future

‘Office of the future’ seems like an empty term but what will the offices look like and how will we be using them?

If you type “office of the future” into Google it comes up with a wiki page about the term ‘paperless office’ coined in the 1940s (funny, right?) Has nothing really changed from the paperless dreams of the 1940s and the open-plan revolution of the 1950s? It seems like we never really got to fully paperless offices and open-plan is pretty much the norm but have we really reached the end of the road for work place innovation?

Patchwork Co-Working Office Space in Paris
Patchwork Co-Working Office Space in Paris recently posed this question to Sir Norman Forster (Architect of the Gherkin in London and the American Hanger at Duxford IWMuseum among many other buildings) to get his take on how work spaces are changing and how the workforce of the future will choose where they work.

“Young people will choose their office buildings based on facilities & lifestyle but also on their sustainability credentials.  [We] will see a shift where creating a good quality working environment which is more sustainable becomes good for business as well as for the environment”

Sir Norman Foster
Mindspace office space | Netherlands
Mindspace in the Netherlands literally making their office space greener

Studies have shown that indoor plants improve productivity by up to 15%

Sustainability, it seems is at the forefront of younger generations minds in more ways than just diet and travel habits.  In order to attract the best and brightest, companies are going to have to offer working space that better reflects this shift in attitude.  It used to be the norm that large multinational companies made a statement about their identity with the size, architecture and location of their offices.  Environmental impact will be the driver of change and innovation within the workspaces of the future, not the size of the lobby.

Turning our attention back to offices of the present, they are becoming more environmentally conscious installing recycling bins and adding plenty of bike parking among other things but what else will they need to offer future generations of worker?  What does and what will make an office an attractive and desirable place to work?

The growth in popularity of co-working spaces has fundamentally changed the way in which people use offices.  People are more transient within working environments choosing to work in the type of space that appeals to them on a given day.  Work space variety, therefore is a must have in the office of the future, allowing people to find the spot that makes them most comfortable and productive.  We have already started to see a wider adoption of sofas, coffee tables, furniture that adds character rather than adhering to a strict corporate image. This trend is set to continue as the office almost turns into a meeting place and not simply a place to work.  As the workplace changes so do working habits.

With advances in connectivity and more cloud-based solutions, surely all the workforce of tomorrow need is a decent supply of coffee, a comfortable chair to perch on and a strong wifi signal? It makes sense then, that the workforce of tomorrow need flexible office space that better mirrors their own living environment. This raises an interesting question. If people want to work in a place that better reflects their home environment, why the need for an office at all?

 “A common question we get asked by our clients is around modernising the office and how to create a more welcoming space without having to spend a small fortune. With clever space planning, modern decor and informed furniture choices – the impact is invaluable.” 

Richard Thomson – MD, Solutions 4 Office

It is hard to see a future where everyone works from home all of the time, this type of home working doesn’t suit everyone. The office and face-to-face interactions that come with having a place to be will always be an important part of work. No matter how good internet speeds get or how much work can be done remotely the need to meet is inevitable and valuable.  It is no coincidence that workplaces are more likely to resemble coffeeshops and bars than they do traditional corporate open plan offices. 

As workplace consultants, our team is privy to many discussions about the workplace and business processes. The shift has started, and it is a big one. Give people a nice place to work and they will be happy working and happy to travel there. 

What does your workplace say about your company culture? Email [email protected] 

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