4 trends for the workplaces of tomorrow

February 17, 2021
4 trends for the workplaces of tomorrow

Archilogic helps office providers better understand and visualise their spaces through 3D floor plans, office design simulations and data analytics. Here we look at 4 future trends in commercial real estate and learn from PwC's report on The Future of Work.

What will work look like in decades to come? Always a fascinating question – and of course impossible to answer. With so many variables, who knows what direction we’ll be headed down. In fact, in looking ahead, consultancy PwC sifted through current trends to envision not one, but four possible work futures.

Blue World: the big get bigger

When aggregation rules the day , companies get ever bigger and more powerful. Data profiling is endemic at all levels. Corporations will constantly collect information on their customers as well as their employees. A privacy nightmare? Perhaps. Although, these data giants would say it’s all about optimization. Screen your employees and analyze their skill sets to ensure everyone is deployed in the best possible way.In this world, talent is a key asset and one that the employer controls completely. Having that corporate job sets you apart, but it also means you’re expected to be at the employer’s disposal. Cross-border transfers are frequent, moving people wherever they’re needed. And forget about home working – the bosses want their best people on site, working together closely at all times.Data gathering and analysis are built right into the Blue workplace. Smart buildings and connected devices will share information constantly. It’s all about the numbers and a watchful analytical eye

Red World: big ideas and big risks

Innovation is the only driver of success in this highly competitive future. Anything goes. Stripped-down companies are constantly fighting to stay ahead, while employees need to work harder than ever to keep their place at the table. Job security is a lost concept. You’re only as good as your last project.That means workers are constantly on the move, going wherever they’re needed - be it an internal transfer, a short term contract or a job switch. Constant upskilling is a must, but there’s no time to take a career break for that next qualification. Online learning is as standard as remote working. Getting together with colleagues in a buzzy workspace is great, though. Red office design is heavily influenced by today’s startup culture, placing a premium on collaboration, innovation and of course, outstanding connectivity.

Green World: a matter of trust

Social responsibility comes first. That’s the reality for corporations in this softer, more caring future. Environmental protection and human rights are primary business concerns. They have to be – workers and consumers alike demand it.In this future, technology and automation are applied to controlling resources, not staff. Business travel is strictly limited, with communications advances making remote work the norm. As a result, workplaces are lean. Cycle stands have replaced car parking and nothing but zero-energy design will do for these office buildings.

Yellow World: people first

Like the Green World, in this future, corporations must have a heart. But as well as big-picture issues, this world is driven by individualistic concerns: the desire of employees to do meaningful work, and of consumers to feel human connection.Artisan work is highly valued here, but that ethos doesn’t apply just to tangible crafts. People work together (often collaborating across company divides) to achieve their goals and create social benefit. Employment is a more fluid concept than it used to be, with workers trading off higher pay for more control of their hours and work locations.

And what does that mean for office layout design?

A few things we can be sure of. The future of work will see a lot of traditional jobs fall to the tide of automation. But new job functions will arise. Increasing global connectivity and tech advances will change the way we think of work locations. Smart buildings will constantly gather and analyze data on the people who work in them, and how they work. But what will those buildings look like? And more importantly, how can you design a winning future workplace right now?

Flexible office layouts

The strong trend towards housing corporate staff in coworking spaces could continue to boost innovation and collaboration in the Red, Yellow or Green worlds. And with cost pressures and increasing business uncertainty, whatever the future looks like, flexible offices are going to be a big part of it. In fact, JLL predicts that this sector will make up 30% of all office space by 2030.

Multi-purpose work stations

High pressure to deliver results in the Blue and Red worlds will demand lean, adaptable workspace design. Versatility must be built in – think foldaway walls and multi-purpose furniture. Office layout designers of the (very near) future will need to plan for everything: how can you incorporate networking and event areas into your workplace, alongside the usual workstations and meeting areas? Tools like Archilogic’s responsive virtual floor plan can help designers test out how switching things up affects factors such as natural light and traffic flow through the building, avoiding bottlenecks when it matters most.

Going above and beyond the new services norm

Mobility, remote working and flexible hours are likely to be the norm (as in many sectors they already are). To stay competitive, offices will need to be accessible around the clock and provide outstanding network connections. What services can you provide to stand out?

Greenery will be an important factor

Putting your employees’ wellbeing first isn’t just a feature of the Yellow World; it’s increasingly key to attracting talent right now. Biophilic design is a proven way of improving happiness and productivity at work – we expect to see a lot more greenery in the concrete jungle.

Work areas that can be enjoyed

And fun is going to be a serious business. Blame Google’s famous slide if you like, but tomorrow’s workers want to enjoy themselves and today’s top employers are working on making that happen. A ping pong table might not be enough to turn a demoralized worker bee into a company champion, but the workplace is a great start. Make sure your office has abundant daylight, color, and charm, and you’ll be well set to face the future with top talent – whatever that future turns out to be.

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