If asked to envision an office of the future, some people might channel space-age options like “The Jetsons,” including robots and moving walkways. But when we really think about how offices have progressed over the past century, what’s changed the most? Workspaces, communication and technology. Let’s take a look at how these three integral parts of the office will evolve in the not-so-distant future.
Workspace: Will Telework Increase?
What people seem to want most is flexibility, not just in the hours they work, but WHERE they work. In a very short amount of time, a technological boom has allowed more employees to enjoy working from home. In the future, will physical offices even exist?
Percentage increase in telework from 2005 to 2012
Estimated number of teleworkers in the U.S. by 2016
When employees are actually in an office, the future may bring less cramped spaces and more open floor plans. Cubicle sales have declined in the past 13 years:
Cubicles as a percentage of office furniture sold
Unfortunately for some, these new open floor plans can lead to less personal space and even shared offices.
For a lot of workers, their desks and a conference room or two for meetings are all they see in a day’s work. But more businesses are moving toward friendly, social meeting places for coworkers to hang out and relax.
New offices will focus on three main aspects:
- Transparency – more glass and fewer walls
- Hospitality – more guest-friendly spaces, including coffee shops
- Sustainability – conservation of space and supplies
Communication: Beam Me In
In the future, offices will most likely focus on “telepresence,” which involves employees remotely interacting at the office via webcams and computer screens. Telepresence not only connects employees across the nation, but it cuts travel costs immensely.
Money HSBC saved by investing in telepresence at its offices
Business trip time saved by Telekom Austria
Even entire meetings may take place via computer screen in the future.
Star Wars and Star Trek may have been onto something with 3D projected images. It is possible that in the future, employees won’t just remote in on computer screens, but they’ll truly take part virtually with holographic images of themselves.
Technology: Not Just the iPhone 265
Technology in the office of the future will extend beyond newer and faster computers. Let’s take a look at a few of the gadgets, supplies and rules that will change the way business is done.
Electronic white boards that can be shared
Will allow employees to present and share information in a digital way that encourages brainstorming and group interaction.
Standing room meeting tables
Many offices are doing away with chairs and going for standing tables; they’re taller and more intimate, and they promote involvement.
You knew it was coming: a treadmill with a workspace attached to it. Already, these exercise machines are being distributed in various offices across the country to promote movement and multitasking among employees. Will they catch on?
The amount of time of physical exercise required to increase memory retention and information processing.
BYOD: Bring Your Own Device policies
Many companies will ditch office desktop computers; they might even avoid giving employees their own portable devices in favor of allowing workers to use their own cell phones, tablets or laptops.
Percentage of offices that will put such policies into place by 2016