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The Future of Work and the Workplace

17th February 2017


Accepting the rapid pace of change in a technology driven world, we can only expect even more significant changes bearing on the future office. What could we be facing in the workplace of the future?


Start the working day as soon as you wake up

Want to check on what’s happened overnight without looking at a screen? It’s possible. All office staff will have a virtual PA, facilitated by wearable devices which will use voice recognition and emotion sensing, allowing artificial intelligence to multi-task and organise the day, with both personal and work defined tasks planned for you. Preparing for the day whilst getting dressed and holding the first meeting during the morning commute will become second nature. Driving to work? Not a problem; just switch on the driverless mode in your electric car and virtually meet with your colleagues.

Workplace as an environment in which to meet, not a daily destination

Our reliance on technology to be able to communicate, meet and work anywhere and everywhere will increase to the point where we will only view the office as an environment where people will solely socialise and interact collectively. Anything else can be – and should be – done remotely.

The diminishing use of the desk

We will need far fewer desks in the future. Given that the desk is provided as a means to input data by manual means, ie typing and mouse clicks, this archaic method of ‘receive and send’ will be rendered obsolete by wearable technology. These mini information processors will become far more attuned to their individual owner and in turn be able to predict and send information for any given situation. Why type a response when one can be given verbally or recorded by other means? Why type a report when it can be recorded as a show and tell presentation and accessed at any time with a verbal request?

The workplace will reflect the streetscape

With far fewer desks and a need for fully agile working environments, the average office building will take the shape of a streetscape; full of variety, choice and multiple services under one roof to facilitate the working day. Expect to see the replication of coffee shops, restaurants, play areas, bars, mini cinemas and libraries, in fact anything that doesn’t look like an office will become abundant.

Intelligent buildings that know you

The office building of the future will be able to sense its individual occupants by name and offer automated programming suited to staff wants and needs. Prefer it a bit warmer in your immediate area of the office? Fancy a latte? Not a problem; no need to ask, as the building knows you are present and will anticipate when you need a specific thing at a specific time based on your working pattern on that particular day.

Multi-Use Buildings

If a working position is used for 60% of the working day, it is being utilised 13% of the whole week. Beyond the drive for agile working (and thus increasing desk utilisation) increased use of expensive real estate will point the way towards multi-use buildings, being flexible enough for easily reconfigurable multi-use. A building could function as an office during the day, a gym or bar in the evening and a back office function during the night.

Social change and rise of the individual

Through increased use of social media, our culture will develop further into one that allows and promotes disclosure of personal information. As we become increasingly socially aware as a society, workplace culture will reflect this increased social awareness giving rise to a more open approach to employees’ personal needs.

Working life

Through better connectivity we will be constantly connected to those that we need to communicate with – a live feed to those with whom we need to discuss issues or find resolutions, rather than rely on e-mails and voicemail messages.

The work/life balance will be gone – both will be fully blended and will interact with each other; we will decide when and where we wish to work and how we wish to be contacted during the day (and evening and beyond)!


by Adrian Walters

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