Nothing is constant but change. From typewriters to computers, and rigid working
hours to catching up with emails on-the-go, the way office environments are
designed and managed has changed dramatically over the past 25 years.
But what will the workplace in the decades to
come look like? As much as it sounds like a long way off, with the rate of
development in collaboration technologies, smart devices, wearables and even
architecture, the future is closer than you think. This next generation
workplace will be more productive, more efficient and will deliver meaningful
cost savings to organisations of all sizes across the globe.
Here, we’ve taken a look at a range of
predictions, from PwC, the BBC and a report published on Workplace Insight,exploring the workplace of 2040, to bring you 12 predictions for the future
- Adaptable working
hours will become standard
In 2040, working schedules will be designed to
suit each individual. This means that employees can decide how long they wish
to work for, the location they wish to work in and how they would like to work.
As long as the assignment is completed employers will be less focused on
operating standard business hours and more focused on output. It’s important
because flexibility is often cited as the biggest non-numeration benefit for
employees – particularly millennials. So as the rigid 9am-5pm structure disappears,
organisations will need to create environments that can adapt to fluctuating
numbers of employees, as well as shifting work patterns.
- Everyone will
work from home (at least some of the time)
One of the biggest changes to the way that
many of us will work in the future is that there will be less focus on, and
association with, a fixed workplace. In fact, cloud computing is already
enabling millions of employees to work remotely in 2015. In the future, remote
working will become more widespread, reducing real estate expenditure for many
A survey of business owners by Virgin Media Business predicted that 60% of office-based employees
will regularly work from home by 2022.
That said, every business will still require
an office, and every workplace will need effective management. In the future,
the emphasis will be on providing increased online communication methods,
flexible and adaptable workspace and less geographic boundaries. This itself is likely throw up organisational
challenges, unique to the offices of the future. For instance, facilities
management and the buildings themselves will need to be more flexible to adapt
to changing working hours and the varying number of employees using the space.
- Split locations
Today, when you think of going to work, you
think of going to the office – perhaps visiting a colleague at another location
– or, for some, working on a laptop in a home office environment. But by 2040,
many predict that the definition of the workplace will become much broader,
allowing employees to work anywhere at any time. This will include ‘smart hubs’
and other collaborative public spaces, as well as a sharp increase in the use
of online meetings and video conferencing facilities, allowing multiple
attendees to join meetings from locations globally without the need to travel.
- Offices will turn
into ‘trophy workplaces’
Of course, offices will still exist, as there
will have to be some location a company calls ‘home’. Therefore, a worker may
visit a ‘trophy workplace’ to check back in with other employees in person.
However, choice is key, and employees will only be visiting the office if they
need to or want to.
- Facilities that
By 2040, businesses will often not own
facilities, but ‘consume’ them – with employees the consumers, given the choice
between a variety of spaces. Each location should provide employees with what
they need to work at their best – from optimum temperature to places to think,
collaborate and even rest.
Philip Ross, chief executive, Unwork.com spoke
about this topic to the BBC:
"It will move from central business districts
to a poly-centric city where people work more locally, in new co-working spaces
that provide a sense of community and challenge the corporate office, which
will get slimmer and be used for different activities.”
Tablets have become commonplace in the family
home, and are increasingly used in the workplace. By replacing cumbersome PCs,
workers can ditch the desk and work wirelessly from any location. Once again,
the emphasis is on flexibility and connectivity.
- Technology will
allow greater collaboration
As much as working from home or in remote hubs
can make people feel isolated, technology will keep lines of communication
firmly open. Social tools will enable workers to ‘crowdsource’ new ideas and
easily make connections between departments, teams and colleagues worldwide.
People will always crave social areas and PwC predicts that in the future,
companies will begin to break down into collaboration networks of small
organisations, with these smaller groups becoming more specialised. Technology
will bring these individuals together on a task-by-task basis, with social
media playing a key role.
- Using wearables
Along with workers ‘consuming’ spaces, the
space will also work with them in an almost symbiotic relationship. Employees
will be able to track their activity through wearables, which will allow their
managers and those designing the workplace the ability to adjust the working
conditions and parameters, optimising the space for the individual to maximise
- Health and
wellness becomes more important
In parallel to the workplace being able to
offer greater flexibility; focus will also shift to the mental and physical
condition of the employees. Giving employees greater choice about their working
environment and the hours they work lets them prioritise their health and
wellbeing. Organisations will recognise this and in order to remain an
attractive employer, companies will look to provide greater access to health
and fitness facilities. So by considering your employee’s health, you will
inevitably improve their overall performance and retain talent.
- Human services
will become more valuable in the workplace
As technology in the workplace increases,
human input will be all the more vital, ensuring the services provided still
appeal to the human audience. Therefore, human services will be considered as a
luxury offering, over the automated software that may complete the same work,
but to a lesser standard. Those delivering these vital services will be in
great demand, resulting in organisations becoming more competitive to create a
great place to work.
- Green credentials
will become increasingly important
PwC predicts that by 2022, a
brand’s social responsibility will become even more important than it is today
for employees and consumers – becoming a key driver of business and one of the
best ways to attract new talent. Today, 65% of people around the world want to
work for an organisation with a powerful social conscience, and this will only
grow in the years to come. Sustainable business is no longer an option, but
essential for success and the first place many businesses need to start is with
how their facilities are managed and maintained. By making business operations
more efficient and reducing waste, businesses can make huge progress, starting
with their workplaces.
- Holograms become a very real possibility
This is probably the prediction that seems the
most far-fetched today, but in the future, it could become a very real
Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer,
Microsoft UK, told the BBC
years' time, I hope we will have broken free of many of the physical ties of
our current working world.
hope that employees, engaged and empowered with the purpose of their
organisation, will use the incredible advances offered by new forms of
interaction, like holograms and displays that offer "high empathy
presence" where more of our body language can be conveyed to enable us to
collaborate more effectively wherever we are.”
This not only opens up the workplace to new
forms of communication, but makes it easier for employees working at different
sites to collaborate in a way, which is as near to face-to-face as technology
These are all trends, which will change the
attitudes of employees – and will need to be reflected in the way the workplace
is designed and managed. While there is definitely a trend towards flexibility,
it will still be essential that every company has a physical office space, or
‘hub’, it’s just how employees interact with that space that will change.
Make sure your organisation is ready to
embrace the future and your strategy for facilities management incorporates
these new technologies and working trends.
Find out how we can help at OCS with our total facilities management or call 0844 846 7608.