It occurs every couple of years, a huge shift in how we lead our lives drives such a huge change in human behaviour that it blows away the idea of the office the way we know it, completely out of the water. When it comes to modern technology, it is no exception to this. The shift in generation is quickly becoming the catalyst backing one of the office’s biggest shake-ups it has ever seen – from location to design and from well-being to sustainability. And although it might be hard to believe that app-controlled meeting rooms and robotic guards are just the start and there is a long way to go still.
So what may the future workplace look like? We talked to a couple of office-space and floor plan service experts to make an educated guess as to how and where we will be working ten years into the future.
One of the world’s best-known architects is Lord Norman Foster. Now 82 years old, he was the designer behind some of the most iconic buildings in the world, including Bloomberg HQ and City Hall in London, the new $5bn Apple Campus 2 located in California, and the Reichstag Dome in Berlin.
Greener in all senses, says Norman Foster. He says that young people will be selecting office buildings based on lifestyle and facilities, and on their sustainability credentials as well. Future generations are going to be a lot more questioning and demanding when it comes to what a prospective employer is doing to deal with climate change. Foster thinks we will be seeing a shift where getting a high-quality working environment created which is more responsible when it comes to sustainability will be good for both the environment and business.
Foster says we will be seeing more sustainable features and more of nature and a lot less involvement from real estate developers. The overarching trend is definitely new ideas being introduced by entrepreneurs to push design forward. Steve Jobs initiated Apple Park and then carried out by Jony Ive, the chief design officers, along with his team and support form Tim Cook, the chief executive. In general, developers these days tend to follow the market and entrepreneurs lead it.
Foster says that he thinks the big driving force will be the social agenda, and also technology. However, attempting to overcome our human and natural fear of change will be another major driver.
Soho Works is a members’ club Soho House and workplace offshoot of their hospitality group. Director Tanya Wood oversees the co-working spaces of the group in London’s Shoreditch and also future expansion plans.
Wood says she expects the workplace will have become more comfortable, in the sense of being a place that you decide to spend more time in without the formalities and pressure of a traditional office. With there already being a call for having more flexible working hours, people are not spending as much physical time in their formal offices. Employees want spaces that enhance and cater to their working lives. That can include access to everything from facilities supporting content creators or specialist equipment to studios, bedrooms, social spaces or gyms.
Evolving socio-economics, Woods says. She means better gender equality (and the sharing of childcare responsibilities), more international travel, and new technologies that will result in a society that needs and wants more independence, autonomy, and choice in their working lives.
Woods says that traditional office space is currently under pressure so office landlords must adapt in order to remain relevant.
Woods says that she expects the workplace in the future will be increasingly complementing our home life. When the office caters to more aspects of people’s lives, then the home can truly be a sanctuary.