Economic Development News & Insight


The workplace of the future: What will change?

/ February 13, 2015


The workplace of the future: What will change?

Is the workplace that we know now going to last well into the future? Or are there changes on the horizon that will change the way the workplace looks forever.

It seems that the latter is going to happen, as more and more companies switch to new and innovative work spaces that promote collaboration.  With developing technologies more and more employees are choosing to work from home, where productivity rises, but collaboration falls.  The difficulty that work spaces face is the opposite, how do you create a collaborative atmosphere without sacrificing peoples ability to focus? The future of the workplace seems to be one that is convivial, one that promotes collaboration in an open concept space that makes employees happy to come to work.

With the focus on employee well-being becoming more prominent, it is becoming clear that cubicle farms are not the most effective way to foster a productive and collaborative environment. Each worker is isolated individually and ideas are harder to share due to a lack of a physical space that encourages the sharing of information.  The corner office and cubicle style of office that was prominent for a long time seems to becoming less the norm as new work spaces begin to develop.  Organizations such as Google and Facebook have famously developed a new style of workplace that is based around sharing and collaboration, but these organizations remain the exception thus far, with other organizations reluctant to join the movement.

Also a focus of these two organization’s work spaces is that they also include work amenities.  Offices of the future will have to feature in-house cooks and gyms in order to attract and retain talent.  Work space developer, M Moser Associates, predicts that future work spaces will resemble the trendy coffee shops and bars of today.  More and more employees are looking for purpose and meaning from their employment, beyond the traditional material gains that used to drive the workplace.  The expectation of purpose and enjoyment means that workers expect their workplace to be an experience, a place that is appealing to come to.  More and more companies are recognizing the importance of this and are moving towards open concept work spaces.

The battle of course is finding the right design where an open floor plan is collaborative, without becoming social and distracting.  While companies, and workers, and keen to move to open concept floor plans, the early results suggests that the wrong design can be harmful for productivity.  The goal it seems is to find an open floor plan that structures in some isolated spaces and rooms where employees can go.

So what will the work place of the future look like?  Will it be completely open or will it have offices?  Nobody knows for sure, but it certainly seems to be moving towards a much different design than what we know exists today.

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