The office is dead. Long live the office.
18 October 2016
3 min read
Who else is sick of grey carpets, the harsh flicker of strip lighting and the most uncomfortable chairs you’ve ever sat in? It doesn’t have to be that way. Offices as we know them are changing into spaces that work with people, not against them.
“Workspaces should flex to provide a variety of spaces and destinations for workers to inhabit that promote movement throughout the day. While many companies are doing a good job of incorporating some of these elements into their workplace design, there’s a need for more awareness and implementation of this way of thinking holistically about the workplace,” says Joan Blumenfeld, Principal, Perkins & Will.
“A well designed space can be a catalyst for physical and psychological health,” says said Steve Delfino, vice president of corporate marketing and product management for Teknion. “The field of design and architecture now has an ethical responsibility and opportunity to go beyond sustainability …to integrate humanistic, biophilic and economic principles into all that we do.”
A well designed space can be a catalyst for physical and psychological healthSteve Delfino, Teknion
We’re moving toward a way of working in which many people are working remotely. The office is less of a forced hub and more a place for collaboration, a chance to impress clients with a physical manifestation of your brand and a way to inspire and engage employees.
Two-thirds of the population will live in cities by 2050, meaning that space will become even more of a premium in our overpopulated urban centres. Studies show that globally, urbanised land increases by an area the size of Manhattan every single day – essentially tripling by 2030. Will companies have much of a choice but to embrace a less rigid and centralised workplace?
If you can work from anywhere then why work from an office?
Citrix forecast that by 2017, around 50% of businesses would have an official mobile working policy. Not only that, by 2020, 70% of people would work remotely as often as they worked at a desk. So the way business owners and interior designers need to think is ‘what can we do to make people enjoy their time in the office and be as productive as they would be when remote working?’
Offices will become places of collaboration and connection because culturally we need touch points as we are social animalsJacqueline de Rojas, Citrix
Natural light, free open spaces and plenty of areas for people to find their ideal way of working is key to helping people make the most of their day.
As well as interacting with spaces differently, old ideas about designated desks are quickly becoming a thing of the past at some of the most innovative companies around the world. For example, Lego has done away with them completely, instead introducing an activity-based system, which means no one has a fixed desk.
“In our May 2016 survey, 88% of staff said they liked the choice of where to work. They get a choice of different settings to suit their activity or mood, including a quiet library, a buzzing social area with background music, comfy chairs in cosy corners or big banks of desks to share with team-mates,” says senior director, Lego, Sophie Patrikios.
88% of staff said they liked the choice of where to workSophie Patrikios, Lego
The concept of disappearing walls and free open spaces is echoed throughout many places. “Not only are cubicles disappearing,” says Scott Lesizza, principal at Workwell Partners, “but now their replacement—the bench—is being overtaken by non-assigned seating.
“We’ll also see more oval-shaped office desks, which allow for a more convenient place for 4-6 people to meet, as well as a shift toward height adjustable tables for standing meetings,” he says.
The office of the future
While it can seem inevitable that the office we’ve all known is dying, what’s actually happening is a change in culture.
We've already seen that work is no longer somewhere you go, but something you doSophie Patrikios, Lego
It’s not the ending of an institution but a shift toward flexible working and people working in a way that gives them a great level of control and satisfaction in their lives. Whatever the future holds, it’s clear that human interaction and collaboration will be at the core of it.
Want to build your collaboration-focused office of the future? Discover the new technology that’s helping to shape the next gen office.