Wednesday, September 14, 2011

15 Predictions for the Future of Office Space

September 13th, 2011

With the emergence of new technologies, how we do business has changed rapidly over the past decade. While the traditional office space filled with cubicles and PCs is still the norm, there are indications that this style of design lurches towards a major overhaul. Employees might soon find themselves in technologically immersive, open spaces – or not working at an office at all.

We can’t promise any of these predictions will come to pass, but if present trends are any indicator, future offices will have more than a few! Bosses, businesspeople and students alike should give this list a careful look and maybe gain a better understanding of what the corporate world may look like someday.

  1. More employees will work remotely

    Current data suggests that just over two percent of the workforce (about 2.8 million people) consider home their primary place of work. An additional 20 to 30 million people work from home at least one day a week, and millions more may do so more infrequently. With new technology making it easier than ever to access tasks from home and businesses looking for cost-cutting measures, remote work will become even more popular. It’s likely the office of the future could, for many workers, simply be one at home.

  2. There will be a growth in instant offices

    Many businesses operate on a global scale today, and even smaller ones may require foreign suppliers for key equipment and services. Even more need products from out of state. As a result, more and more workers are spending their days traveling. They need an office space that provides them the traditional amenities without the burden of branches in every city. Instant offices may be the solution, and they’re already popping up in major cities all over the world. They provide a quiet, fully equipped office space, complete with secretaries and support staff to help out travelers. They are often a cheaper and more efficient way to provide mobile employees, who will make up an ever larger portion of the workforce in coming years, all their necessities while on the road.

  3. Digital workspaces will become possible

    It might sound like science fiction, but a fully digital workspace might not be that far off. Workers could be located on different sides of the globe and still interact in virtual office spaces, using a shared mainframe or database. Many already do this today, but the practice is bound to evolve over the next few decades, leading to purely digital workspaces, highly imaginative and adaptable to the needs of vastly different businesses.

  4. Offices will seek to be greener

    Many office buildings are already working hard to become greener, and many more new buildings are being constructed with LEED certification in mind. Green architecture isn’t just a passing trend, however. Businesses are realizing more and more that they not only save resources, but money as well. Those savings add up over the lifetime of the building. Expect to see more and more companies jumping on the sustainable bandwagon, whether through new buildings or retrofitting old ones with some upgraded technology. This can mean anything from wireless ambient lighting, to smart HVAC systems to simply using natural elements powering, lighting and cooling a building.

  5. Design will help workers be more creative

    Businesses are paring down their staff and looking for ways to help remaining workers be more productive and creative. Today, as in the future, that will often mean changing the shape of the office itself. They will be built to include more inspiring places where workers can slip away for a break and think, work or just relax. For some buildings, this may mean incorporating a green space. For others, quiet nooks where workers can peruse books or listen to music, and others might choose to take a different route, with adult playgrounds replete with games and slides. Whatever a business chooses, creativity will be one of the driving forces of the future economy, and finding ways to help workers push their own limits will be one of the biggest goals.

  1. Cubicles may not be the arrangement of choice

    Many workers will rejoice knowing that the cubicle likely won’t be the most preferred office layout heading into the next decade. Instead, they will be designed with a more open feel meant to promote community and collaboration. With more clerical and administrative jobs being done by at-home workers, those who have to come into the office will need to make the most of the interaction it offers. Businesses will help foster that interaction by breaking down walls and helping coworkers get to know one another and function better as a team.

  2. Ergonomics and other comfort factors will become increasingly important

    While a lot may get done by a worker who sits in front of a computer screen all day, it’s pretty hard on the body to stay in one position for eight hours (or more). Future offices will pay greater attention to ergonomics and other comfort factors, as more comfortable workers (and those who don’t get injured on the job) will ultimately be more productive. Some may embrace walking workstations, which allow users to stand and move while completing assignments. Others will go a more futuristic route with workstation pods that cater to a worker’s every need. Whatever the result, ergonomics will be a dominant force in the future office space, even more than it is today.

  3. Good industrial design will become even more key as office space evolves.

    As companies look to spend less, get more and blend the needs of vastly different generations into one workplace, good industrial design and architecture will become even more important. Workspaces must reflect both the present needs of the company and look at future ways it may change. They must solve real problems and offer real solutions. While good design has always been important, in the future workspace it will be even more so.

  4. Cloud computing will allow workers more freedom to roam

    Workers won’t be tethered to a desktop computer in future offices. While desktops will likely have a big role for the next few decades, cloud computing makes it possible for workers to pull up their files from, well, anywhere. Accessible through tablets, mobile phones and laptops alike, cloud computing will allow employees to create their own office spaces — whether within the building itself or anywhere else in the world.

  5. Employees and bosses will increasingly share office space

    In the office of the future, openness will rule. Not only will cubicles come down, but bosses will move out of those corner offices and into the main space. Workers may not even have assigned spaces, and will likely work more closely with both their coworkers and their supervisors. The goal of all this openness? It isn’t just good design, it can also foster a workplace where employees feel like valued members of a team. And, therefore, are more likely to stick around and work harder.

  1. Workspaces will be designed around access to natural light

    Natural light doesn’t just make a workspace more inviting, it can actually help workers be more productive. Some studies suggest that workers who have access to natural light are five to 25% more productive — not too shabby for such a simple change. With more businesses already opting for greener buildings (which often use natural light as a cost-saving measure), more employee access to natural light will undoubtedly be a growing trend in coming years

  2. More amenities for employees

    With companies like Google leading the way in providing employees with all the amenities they could ever want, businesses will increasingly modify their office spaces to meet similar desires. Services like childcare, gyms, rooms for nursing mothers and health-conscious cafes will help employees attain a better work-life balance, be happier and ultimately more productive. And more productivity is just good business, which can make investing in these kinds of amenities a good choice for any company.

  3. Office spaces will be more adaptable

    We think the office space of the future will reflect designs more easily adaptable to companies’ immediate needs, as many thriving businesses often make big hires and rapid changes over the course of just a few months. Tables, desks, technologies and even the walls of the rooms themselves will need to be highly adaptable and flexible.

  4. Technology will be integrated just about everywhere

    If technology isn’t already ubiquitous enough, the office of the future will likely make it even more so. The business network will become incredibly important, as workers will access it from home, the office and even on the go. Some see technology pushing in other ways, with employees bringing tablets and other mobile devices to meetings, LCD screens integrated into the walls themselves and workstations evolving to make desk denizens more comfortable and focused on their devices. Whatever the future holds for office space, it’s clear that technology will be one of the driving forces behind it — and also what shapes a lot of the design and implementation choices businesses make.

  5. Less paper, fewer wires, more streamlined design

    One word may define the office space of the future: less. Employees can expect to see less paper usage, less reliance on wired technology, fewer people in the office, less waste and a generally more streamlined and productive space. Not only will it help reduce costs, but it may also make employees more productive and keyed into trends driving the consumer market (like technology and sustainability), which can do wonders for PR.

Taken From Accredited Online Colleges

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