• 3 min read
What Will the Future of the Office Look Like?
Five crucial themes for fostering connection and culture
New realities are driving a re-envisioning for the office of the future based on societal shifts. To adapt to this evolution of work, 3 important factors will influence the workplace: access to people and information, our work behaviors, and spaces to support people’s needs. It’s not about the tasks or activities, but where and how those activities get done.
Haworth’s Work from Anywhere approach demonstrates the ecosystem and solutions for the evolving work landscapes. While work can be done at home or a third place, like a coworking space or lobby, the future office will be the hub of this ecosystem because this is where connections happen. It’s where people come together to make those creative innovation solutions work.
“As we look at this future of the office that we're all coming back into, what will it be? We certainly need to take into account that it will be a destination—for all the culture and connection and performance happening there,” said Marta Wassenaar.
Marta leads the Advance Research and Insights team within Haworth's Global Innovation and Design organization. She recently shared her research and insights during Haworth Connect, a series that engages inspiring speakers on a range of topics.
“There's just this whole new way that we have to understand how our workforce is going to participate in our offices. So that really ties into how we look at the office landscape as we move toward the future,” Marta said.
There are 5 themes that are becoming crucial in the future workplace: immersive technology, focus to restore, space shift, more collaboration, and more human.
1. Immersive Technology
The shift will be from one space in the office, dedicated to virtual connections, to technology in the whole workspace. We have to think about the acoustics and the visual ways that we help support individuals doing activities there. Every space is going to have to adapt to this virtual presence. How is it going to be equitable? Internet of Things (IoT) data can be used in the reserving of rooms or workstations to improve space utilization.
2. Restorative Spaces
This is where you rejuvenate, where you recover from mental fatigue, where you can take a breath because the complexity of work has become more intense and varied. There’s a great need to have opportunities to take a break. “We do believe there's going to be a shift now toward well-being and restoration, and being able to support how people fend off burnout. The office plays a role in that,” Marta said.
3. Space Shift
There is a transition to more group space, heavy on spontaneous interaction, less density, and more user control and flexibility. The current office is 78% individual work, 14% group work, and 8% restore. That is anticipated to shift to 47% individual work, 39% group work, and 14% restore.
4. More Collaboration
As the office becomes the center of connection and culture for organizations, more group spaces will be necessary to support these connections. In the past, connections to others were often secondary to the importance of everyone being managed and present. “Now that we have learned that work happens in a variety of settings, being in the office will be more about these connections and less about being in an assigned seat for the majority of the day,” Marta explained.
5. More Human
This trend became evident in recent years through the residential softening of commercial spaces. There’s a growing demand for more hospitable spaces to create a welcoming feeling and provide opportunity for people to express themselves and their culture. It's also about cues that health and safety are supported, for example, by providing access to healthy food or putting extra emphasis on clean surfaces and environments. “We want to see that organizations are taking care of us,” Marta said.