What Will the Office of the Future Look Like?

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When most people ask this question they imagine that old sci-fi staple, the retina scanner. Ally this with a holographic boss and a servile robot and you’ve got it. Or maybe not – we make the mistake of simply upgrading the things we already have rather than thinking about what we will have changed.

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The office itself

No holograms, no robots, in fact there may be fewer gadgets than we have now as work undergoes a massive sea-change.

Home from home

More and more of us will be working from home at least some of the time. At present, only a few people permanently work from home, but this proportion is growing. Almost half of US employees do remote working at least occasionally.

“Home” can also mean your commute, or your favourite coffee shop, or even an aeroplane. Have device will travel – and work.

The office isn’t dead yet, though

Remote workers love calling into the office every so often and some studies have shown that seeing co-workers boosts productivity. However, given that the average space utilisation rate is only 42%, companies might reconfigure the layout of their offices to bring people even closer together.

It’s not so much that people will be crammed into tiny work-pods, it’s more that the emphasis is on eliminating unused space. People will still have their “personal space”, but there’ll be less dead space in between.

Co-working is the way forward

At the moment we see co-working (companies sharing leased premises) as the preserve of the start-up – it’s cheap, it’s sociable and it’s fun and diverse. So why restrict it to start-ups? A shared office space in London’s West End, for example, should be a hotbed of creativity and innovation.

Co-working brings together the ideas of space utilisation and the coffee machine magic effect (see below), increasing productivity and impromptu brainstorming sessions.

Watercooler moments

All the important stuff goes down by the watercooler or the coffee machine. These chance meetings will be increasingly encouraged by architects, who will design workspaces with (non) accidental meeting points so people from different departments will have to cross paths, chat and cross-pollinate. These watering holes will be placed in central locations so that everyone mixes.

The end of the desk-chair combo

This could happen to eliminate dead space, but also to make workers healthier. A sedentary lifestyle is known to be bad for the health, so offices and their furniture will become more dynamic. Workers will stand, recline, lie or even rock back and forth, while working, on specialised furniture. It may help to maintain alertness and the constant light exercise will promote physical health.Click here to read more on exercise.

Yes, the retina scan…

Retina and fingerprint scanners are the future, or rather they were. Most likely the locks to work premises will be operated by a smartphone or chip rather than physical patterns. These locks are already in use and they’re not too expensive, plus, everyone will have a smartphone, just as everyone has fingerprints.

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