Communications from the Workplace of 2030: Part 1

Natalie Ben Aba, Sr. Manager, Design Strategy & Sourcing, imagines the typical workday of the future.

The year is 2030 — 10 years since a global pandemic set in motion a series of spatial and behavioral modifications that have fundamentally changed how we experience the workplace.

The previously unimaginable work-life disruption that came with the Covid-19 outbreak forced office workers to become more fluid in our daily routines, and now it’s the Monday–Friday, 9–5 slog that feels hard to fathom. Today, we expect an element of choice when it comes to our working environment, usually between working from home, going into the office, or working from another remote location with amenities.

We are also hyper aware of health and hygiene. There’s no such thing as a “germaphobe” anymore, it’s just the status quo. We buy hand sanitizer like we buy toothpaste. Public places, including workspaces, have now adjusted to conform to this new normal.

Choosing How You Work

The term “workplace” has become a multifaceted concept, no longer simply a destination in a mandatory routine. Today’s “office workers” craft their own schedules and routines based on their personal workstyles and comfort level.

At home, many of us have a designated space to sit and work for the day, including a sit-stand desk, provided by our employer, that is programmed to our preferences and adjusts height throughout the day. Today, our desks know better than we do when it’s time to take a break and stand for a while. Desks also come equipped with charging for devices and built-in speakers. When you need a heads-down day working from home, there is no sacrifice in comfort or efficiency.

These days, the company workspace serves as our hub for a few days a week where we have designated “office hours.” There are certain meetings that are best done in person, and, on the whole, projects tend to function more efficiently when there is opportunity for ad-hoc conversation and person-to-person interaction. Not to mention the camaraderie and motivation of being amongst fellow employees, working together in one physical space.

Amenity spaces are also very common for team meetings, focused work, and events. Many companies now offer access to these designated “third” spaces as standard.

Getting Around

Those office hours we mentioned? They’ve been strategically offset from rush hour so that employees don’t have to face overcrowded transit and uncomfortable proximity to strangers. A typical “office” day might consist of a 10 a.m. commute to the office, with a 3 p.m. departure. We log on before and after from home to complete a full work day.

Commuting itself is different, too. If you live in New York or London, for example, turnstiles in the subway and tube now have hand sanitizer dispensers built into the structure. We take comfort in the fact that everyone can sanitize their hands upon entering the system so that train handrails aren’t overly contaminated. Once on the train, there are designated floor markers six feet apart and people respect personal space.

Building Etiquette

To enter an office building today, you must pass through ultra-precise temperature sensors, which beep upon detecting a fever. If you present with a fever but know you’re recovering from a common cold and pose little risk to your colleagues, you better have a doctor’s note to say as much or you’ll be sent home immediately.

Elevator call buttons are a thing of the past, we simply wave our hand in front of the “up” sensor and wait for the elevator. Once it arrives, we step in with one other person, max. Any more would be socially unacceptable. Our building badges contain floor indicators that the elevator threshold sensor picks up on and takes us to the correct floor. People in line must wait for the next elevator or take the stairs (as you can imagine, we all take the stairs when possible). Now, we shift to workspace mode…

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!