Technology has changed the way we work, and where we can work, with more and more people choosing to work remotely. But is the idea of the office becoming obsolete?
Research suggests otherwise. We know humans are social animals. People want to work in close proximity to other people, to brainstorm and share ideas, to form friendships, and create a sense of group identity. And for most businesses, the knowledge-sharing and new ideas that result from these interactions are hugely important.
Workplace design has changed immensely over the past few years, and will continue to do so. The biggest change will be the focus on people, on their behaviours and preferences. We are learning how to value a person's experience and how to make their work environment better. We're questioning what the traditional notion of the workplace is, and we're on the cusp of what it might be.
For me, the future of the workplace will be socially driven. I predict work hubs are the way forward. By hubs, I mean collaborative spaces where people can connect in a social and creative way. These spaces have the flexibility to adapt to different needs and activities.
A hub can also exude a sense of brand identity for an organisation a concept that was seeded in my PhD Branded Spaces'. The idea is compelling it is still somewhat abstract but it's where we could be in the near future.
Design driven by freedom of choice
A hub may resemble one big cafe, airport lounge, modern library, or a student space at a university. And that's a good analogy. Students today could easily study at home, but increasingly they come onto the campus every day to work in a variety of different spaces where they can complete group work and be near other people, or work by themselves away from distractions. This is how young people are already working, so we need to prepare for the time when they enter the workplace. How long are we going to be able to chain them down to one desk five days a week? Allowing freedom, choice and independence is essential.