The future of the workplace

Office design matters. It always has. But not as much as it does today. Research suggests that in a post-pandemic world, workers are prepared to shun a job if the employer fails to capture their needs in how the office is imagined.

In a recent Microsoft survey, more than half of the 41% of workers considering switching jobs in the next year said the work environment would play a role in their decision.

The last couple of years spent home working has been a real game-changer in how employees see the office. Most people have shown a willingness to go back into the workplace, with a hybrid work mode favoured by 71% of workers in recent research.

For employers who get the design of their workplace right, it’ll be a win-win. But what does the office of tomorrow actually look like?

Think boutique hotel

As the designer of Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters 20 years ago – complete with slides and ping pong tables – architect Clive Wilkinson is something of a pioneer in office design.

Speaking on an NPR podcast at the start of the year, he suggested the next iteration of the office won’t look much like a traditional office at all.

“You might think you’re walking into the lounge of a boutique hotel, maybe,” he said. “It’s an amazingly effective work environment, even though there’s no conventional office furnishing or anything like that.”

However, he cautioned against making the office “overly comfortable”. He believes that “creative work doesn’t happen in a condition of luxury”.

It’s about getting the balance right. The workplace needs to offer something extra than working from home. But not so attractive that workers don’t want to leave.

Reimagining collaboration

That ‘something extra’ should come in the form of greater collaboration. Remote working tools like Zoom have done a great job of bridging the collaboration gap throughout the pandemic. But nothing beats working together in person.

Clearly, collaboration is not a new concept. But the ways in which we foster it have to change, for the good of productivity and creativity.

So, what are the best ways of fostering collaboration in the office of the future? New York-based digital agency R/GA asked its workforce exactly that, and received 5,500 replies.

The responses pointed to “less individual desk space and “more team-oriented spaces like a table, screen, [with] partial privacy”. In other words, workers want spots in the office they can use for informal meetings, instead of everything requiring a conference room.

Keep inclusivity in mind

These more intimate spaces also play into neurodiversity. Employers need to acknowledge that different workers experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways.

To get the best out of your neurodiverse employees, and create a truly inclusive work space, you need to provide them with an environment which is adapted to their brain differences. This might include quiet working zones or areas where sound and light can be customised and controlled.

As experts in design and build, fit-outs and refurbishments, we can help you dissect the use of your current space and transform it into an office of the future. Talk to the team today.