2020 Outlook: What will the office of the future look like?
A landline phone, a bulky desktop, a pen stand, and multiple file cabinets in the office. That’s what an office looked like back in the 90s. Cut to the present - mobile phones, a laptop or a sleek desktop, lack of stationery, system backup, decorative desks. That’s how the office environment has evolved since then.
The workplace has been evolving continuously with time and changing needs. Looking at the changes, from separate cabins, we have now come to an era of open workspaces, where all employees work under one roof without any boundaries and walls. This bridges the gap and unites them as a team to strengthens the corporation’s bond.
Infrastructural and technological advancements bring some changes to the corporate world to accommodate the future workforce and their needs. Be it the organizational system, policies, the company’s outlook, or the working environment. So where are we headed next? What new changes does the 2020 office space is expected to bring? Here’s what the future office space may look like.
- Company culture
Every place needs to have an aura of its own. For an office space, it’s the culture. Company culture is crucial for any organization’s success. The company’s culture is intertwined with its core values and vision. According to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees agree that having a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.
Organizations and employees realize the importance of company culture more than ever. It can motivate the employees to introduce innovative ideas to add new heights of success. The future office spaces will work more on building a coherent culture to prepare the base for the future.
- Online community
With the lockdown, people shifted to online work. As everything was online, new approaches to communicating and interacting started budding up. This gave way to the online community culture and pretty soon it became the lifeline for the businesses and employees. People started engaging in different online activities and platforms, some for work, others for fun. Webinars, online quizzes, online group discussions through video calls and forums, and many such media became popular. Every day witnessed more people and more ways of community building where people used their skills to teach and support others and help make the business work.
As the online community system grew stronger during the lockdown, it may even strengthen post lockdown due to its wide popularity en masse. People cannot socialize with each other in the offices like they used to, so community culture is the only way for them to reconnect for all the purposes.
- Adopting new changes
The current workforce consists majorly of millennials and Gen Z. The office spaces need to mould and reinvent according to their needs and comfort. An article by Harvard Business suggests that flexibility, adaptability, and empowerment are the three keys to the future of the workplace. With the COVID-19 pandemic, people experienced and got acquainted with working from home. The coming times may see it as a part of the organization’s policies.
Having said this, while adopting these new changes is a sign of progressive corporate attitude, it does not mean that this has to be compulsorily implemented. Coming to the office to carry on work is still quintessential. It helps in focussing on the work and escalating employee’s output. Additionally, this also helps in keeping the personal and professional lives separates, which is much needed for mental peace and having quality time back at home.
- IT & Technology
The role of technology cannot be stressed enough with advancing times. And once again, during the lockdown amid COVID-19, technology and digitization evolved as saviours for almost all the organizations. The backbone of the success of digitization is having a sound IT. While using different platforms to manage work, the data needs to be constantly backed up to the central server. For this, the office IT system should be always up and running.
Incorporating advanced IT systems that allow continuing work from anywhere will bring relief and ease for everyone. It allows employees to shed the four-walled confined spaces and step out to work. This way they can manage their work even when they are out taking care of other chores.
- New design ideas
The office environment plays an important role in employees’ productivity. Thoughtful and strategic office interiors really bring out the spirit of the workspace. In fact, the office design has grown from a mere amortized asset to a strategic growth tool. The future office spaces will rely more on smart designers and architects to reflect the energy of the workforce in the ambiance. The ideas need to be futuristic to cater to the current times and to the times ahead.
The demand of the hour is sustainability. Sustainability in ideas and office designs. The spacious office can be designed to enhance collaboration, creativity, and inventiveness. Office spaces need to be more practical to include employee engagement, concentration, and focus.
- Learning from the past to build future
While moving ahead, one should always take the learnings from the past. Assessing what lacks in the current office system should be heeded while designing the office space of the future. It may need to scrape some redundant ways and adopting new smart ways of running the office.
Some examples are - demolishing the cabin system and introducing open sitting spaces to encourage team bonding, introducing remote work opportunities, reducing the hierarchical system to encourage the flow of ideas and such. The future office space will be an optimized one when the gaps in the existing system are filled. For instance, Wakefield & Cushman learned the need for social distancing during the lockdown, and have already adopted the ‘Six Feet Office’ design in one of their offices.
The Future is Bright
The future of the office space looks quite promising. COVID-19 has proved to be a silver lining for the work environment. It introduced the feasibility of remote work to the world and the inclusion of technology in the daily work routine. There can be some big changes coming our way. What needs to be done is looking into what the existing system lacks right now and the workforce needs for better productivity. The future office spaces need to provide not just a sitting place but an experience for the employees.