How the office of the future will lure staff back from home

Jitesh Patel
Tilly the French bulldog

Today's workers are nomads. But tomorrow’s workers are less likely to be.

Two thirds of workers say that they work more productively in the office than anywhere else, according to a new survey we have conducted, and half say that working away from the office makes them feel stressed and disconnected from colleagues.

As businesses tackle the challenge of a disparate and disconnected workforce, what can we expect from the workplace designs of the future to tempt workers back to the office?

Fostering the new collaboration

Workplace design will put the employee not the employer at the heart of the office. With disruptive firms taking incumbents by storm, corporate hierarchies are beginning to flatten. Businesses are re-thinking the open-plan aspect of offices to foster this new company-wide collaboration and workers’ desire for more personalised areas. We anticipate more “hybrid workspaces”, with moveable furniture, couches, coffee bars and private booths to add variety and individuality to featureless open-plan offices.

Office as playground

Taking a slide between meeting rooms. De-stressing on the office swing. Research shows that fun at work is vital for employee motivation and productivity. Some of the world’s leading companies now boast slides, aquariums, table tennis, games and music rooms to attract their top talent to the office. Expect mainstream firms to adopt some of these features and join in the fun.

Era of trust

Workers want to be trusted more and supervised less. Hot desking won’t be frozen out and designated desks will remain, but the future office will have a greater variety of features to accommodate a desire for more independent working – such as desks that fit together like jigsaw pieces so they can be adapted to match the needs of different teams.

Rise of the at-home office

The ideal for the future is that workers will virtually not be able to distinguish their office from their home. As businesses entice workers back to the office, providing home comforts is vital. Fully-fitted kitchens will increasingly be the norm. While dozing at the desk will still be frowned upon, napping in a sleeping pod or slumbering in a nap room will be part of the new office culture. And if workers still need to relax, there will be office pets to pamper or a room decked out like a garden to boost oxygen levels and improve mood.

Implementing the internet of things

The office will be completely connected and wonderfully wired. This will allow workers to be their most productive and workplaces to be their most efficient. Offices will be wired for all devices, equipment, facilities, power, heat and light, remotely optimised and constantly fine-tuned for connectivity, the comfort of employees and to maximise efficiency.

Health over wealth

Research suggests that inactive office workers face serious health risks, so the drive to provide healthier offices will strengthen over the next few decades – stand up desks, bike racks, shower rooms and in-house yoga or keep fit classes will become more common. Workplace mental health will also take centre stage. Businesses will become more mindful that buzzing collaboration areas are perfect for some staff, but can be destructive for those who crave quiet. This twin focus on physical and mental health will, however, ensure that tomorrow’s workers will enjoy the healthiest offices ever.

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