2020 will forever be known as the year of COVID. We continue to overcome challenges on personal, professional, local, national and global levels. The more unexpected event was a massive experiment in working from home. Before the Pandemic, businesses had been taking baby-steps to incorporate flexible work patterns; others resisted the transition due to a lack of trust in staff productivity. With today’s sophisticated technologies, it seemed ideal for this experiment to commence: video conferencing and virtual messaging tools already allowed us to stay connected from multiple locations. The virus is still here, so is NOW the time to re-think the purpose and usage of workspace??
The office will never be the same as we grapple with the prospect that a Pandemic will happen again. Distancing will remain long after vaccines are disseminated. Cleaner office space and highly sanitized public transit will be demanded. More flexibility in when, where and how we work will be expected. The hot desk / shared desks / zero address office trend is rejected as the idea of one desk per person is more sanitary, therefore more appealing. Has sickness accelerated the evolution of the office?
Rather than regress into a rack ’em and stack ’em style, employers have been forward-thinking accommodating space plans that create a workspace destination worthy of their team to want to come in to. The office is becoming less a workplace and advancing to be that exciting place we go to for casual interaction and socialization with our colleagues. Rather than feeling chained to a desk with restrictive scheduling, tomorrow’s office design is progressing towards accommodation; an increased focus on creativity and comfort; a workplace worthy of your team’s time, featuring a casual environment reeking of health and well-being, productivity, efficiency and safety.
The office as a destination makes complete sense…for the people, for the planet and for the purpose of every business.
Not only is the way we work forever modified, but the place we work looks different. Future layout, design and amenities remain in flux, likely a revolving door to what is hot and what is not. Technical interactivity will continue to advance, but it is the human aspect of connectivity that drives us, even if robots create new jobs and eliminate others.
Moving forward, the workplace will be greener and sustainable, utilizing natural resources that enhance the environment. Clean energy will become more affordable, therefore implemented into new and updated construction, with innovations and infrastructure design creating and enhancing sustainable cities and communities that are better for all.
Workplaces will be fluid and inspirational, tailored to tasks or projects. On-site culture will be community-focused and tribal, as workers and their families and friends use the space to commune in an open environment of shared interests and activities. We may see a resurgence of the work / live / play environment made popular in the early 2000’s, although the home office will remain accessible. In fact, virtual employment will be more work from anywhere than a work from home. The future office will sit at the intersection of a co-work and co-life culture: the office will serve as a communal extension of home although it might be the workspace that provides quiet relaxation pods.
The lines between a work from anywhere desk and an addressed office in an assigned workspace are certainly blurred, but we’ll experience a new level of overlap in activities, amenities, design and culture:
- Healthy food options; open kitchens to learn and prepare foods; cafeterias will merge with restaurants and cafes will provide high quality cuisine while socializing, making food breaks more of a dining experience; office equality will find its’ way into the working hierarchy.
- We improve on adapting to a balanced lifestyle, increasing focus on health and wellness programming; enhanced on-site fitness facilities, equipment and spas; exercise classes will extend to families.
- On-site childcare will advance to off hours, allowing parents to both interact with children during business hours, or step away at the end of the work day.
- Living room-like breakout stations will encourage work and socialization, while individualized spaces such as private phone booths or nap pods will encourage alone time and mindfulness.
The future office will be a space filled with sensory elements that stimulate and inspire creativity and offer intimate areas for privacy and solitude.
The office will be worth going to, a value-add destination, a workspace that provides a physical location for community interaction. Instead of a set location to clock in and out of, your teams will want to spend their time in a highly social and interactive facility to compensate for isolation during lock-down.