What Does the Future of Office Space Look Like? Ask the Experts

There’s a lot being said about the fate of traditional offices right now. The day-to-day business of, well, business is changing so rapidly that the environments we work in will need to be fundamentally rethought.

We gathered insights from leading organizations that are actively studying and shaping the future of office space today.

Work Design Magazine: We’re seeing a post-open office world

The publishing group dedicated to exploring work issues asserts:

“The idea that ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to work environments is dead. The workplace design industry is filled with over simplified conversation about open vs. closed plan offices, and the truth is, it’s all irrelevant… Rather than arguing over open vs. closed, we should be considering and evaluating what will create the best working environment to support the needs of the specific organization.”

World Economic Forum: Green spaces are growing

The renowned foundation committed to improving the state of the world declares:

“Biophilic” design has been a buzzword in office overhauls since at least 2014, which in trend terms means it should be totally over. Not so! With natural elements shown to boost productivity by 8% and wellbeing by 13%, it’s still all about the green stuff – and this time, they want you to go further than a few half-hearted pot plants on the windowsill. In addition to bamboo walls and nature-inspired swoops and curves, today’s offices are tackling the planet’s problems integrally through green web hosting, grey water recycling, renewable energy sources, carbon offsets and locally sourced food.”

INC. Magazine: Company culture will be tangible

The small business- and startup-focused paper writes:

“Most employees want to feel a sense of purpose when it comes to their job. An office’s design can help nurture that by weaving the company’s DNA throughout it—in wall art, furniture, decor, and signage. [For example,] when it designed Ancestry.com‘s headquarters, Rapt Studio included tapestries and wall coverings from around the globe and hung portraits of employees beside old photos of their ancestors.”

Knotel: Flexible spaces will become the norm

According to CEO Amol Sarva of Knotel, the leading provider of agile office space:

“Flexible office space currently has low penetration; only about 5 percent of office space in New York is flexible… I predict that eventually all U.S. office space—100 percent—will be run in flexible formats. JLL [a global real estate services provider] predicts one-third of all U.S. office space will be flexible by 2020. I think conversion to flexible space will happen quickly after that, increasing by double digits.”

Colliers International: Sensors will make buildings smarter

The global real estate services company says:

“With technology constantly evolving, smart buildings and robotic technology are expected to gain significant momentum in 2018. Smart buildings utilise imbedded sensors and analytic technology to allow owners and occupiers to monitor and adjust energy usage, lighting levels, daylight penetration, fresh air, humidity and temperature control, elevator usage and other metrics to improve user comfort and maximise energy savings.”

HOK: Mobile workers will be better supported

The global design and architecture firm states:

“At any given time, about one-third of all knowledge workers in private and public sectors are working remotely. Only 30 to 40 percent of employees with assigned spaces are actually using them. In the workplace, mobility may require more ‘unassigned’ or touchdown space for inpiduals who are out of the office for a significant portion of the day. Organizations also need flexible space for employees who might be visiting from another floor, building or campus.”

INC. Magazine: VR and AR technology will be part of day-to-day life

The widely-read business paper again states:

“Augmented reality and virtual reality are slowly making their way to the front of the line. While we haven’t reached the tipping point on a wide acceptance of VR or AR, it is showing itself to be a great resource for employees that want to demonstrate models in product development, overhaul the boring pitch deck, and hold immersive meetings with stakeholders in other states or countries. For marketing or sales teams, VR and AR can help close deals with a ‘face to face’ call, a test drive of a product or service, or a ‘feel like you’re really there’ lead-generation campaign. For talent recruitment, a virtual tour of the office will eventually become the standard.”