Communications from the Workplace of 2030: Part 2

Part 1 of our series imagining the typical workday of the future is available here. Words by Natalie Ben Aba, Sr. Manager, Design Strategy & Sourcing.

Whether we arrive on our floor via stairs or elevator, there will be another hand-sanitizing station before entering the workspace proper. The space smells especially fresh first thing in the morning owing to nightly deep cleans — but surfaces are disinfected regularly throughout the day, too.

The first person to arrive will trigger the sensors that control the lights in that area so as not to waste energy when the space is unoccupied. First stop is usually the locker area, which is where we keep jackets, gym bags, and other personal effects since no one has a designated seat anymore. (Among other reasons, clutter makes it harder to clean effectively.) You might also grab a wireless keyboard and mouse from the supply locker, where they are stored under UV light for disinfecting between uses.

While the desk you choose for the day isn’t “yours" per se, it will recognize your badge and adjust to your preferred height. It’s second nature now to grab a disposable cleaning wipe, provided at each station, and wipe down your phone, desk, seat, and anything else you might touch. Then, it’s time for another hand-washing with soap and water office hours begin.

Today’s “hot” desks have built-in monitors that wirelessly connect to your devices, meaning you can be up and running in under 15 seconds once back at your desk. There is plenty of room to spread out, considering that the standard desk length is now 72 inches, a significant jump from the old days when we all sat a mere 48 inches from each other (if we were lucky). It’s rare for phones to run out of juice these days since the standard desk, both at the office and at home, has built-in wireless charging.

In 2030, we still love our coffee. It might seem strange, but the coffee at the office is most likely a lot better than what you’ve got at home; in fact, it’s one of the main perks of “office days.” The mugs on the shelf are clean, but it’s habitual to clean one for yourself before using it. The coffee dispenser has a sensitive motion sensor, so requires no touching. Grabbing a vitamin-C shot for good measure is also fairly standard.

Privacy booths are a common office fixture these days, mostly for phone calls and individual focused work. Fresh air is cycled through every 10 seconds and booths have completely wipeable interior surfaces, making them both safe and really easy to clean. Another perk, the booth has a built-in screen and soft lighting to make video conferencing a lot more pleasant.

For larger, in-person meetings, we sanitize our hands at the wall-mounted station outside before entering. There’s also PPE provided for every room, masks and gloves specifically, in case someone suspects they might be getting ill and wants to take precautions to protect those around them.

Inside the meeting room, seats are spaced at least 3 feet apart — no bumping elbows here. Interacting with coworkers generally is different than it used to be, we’re now used to respectfully staying out of each other’s way — usually keeping a standard distance of about 6 feet. Wayfinding signage throughout the workspace helps with this, as the prescribed “flow” of traffic reduces the likelihood of collisions or passing in close quarters.

There is a lot about the office that hasn’t changed, though. It’s still where we come to do our most effective collaboration and communication. It gets us out of the house and into the heart of the cities we love. It’s a calm, safe, and spacious place to be.

It might not be the place we knew before the Covid pandemic, after all, things had to be different because we were different. But it forced us to think of solutions to make the planet happier, safer, and more sustainable, and for that we’re grateful.