M+A Smart Design Forum: The Future of Workplace
Every other month, the entire firm gathers for a company-wide charette, working through some of the biggest issues affecting our industry, and the world, and finding actionable ways we can address these challenges through design.
This month, we engaged our entire office to discuss the future of the workplace. With a bit of prior research from credible sources and trend forecasting tools we intentionally subscribe to, we asked ourselves what the workplace could be in the next 20 years.
The answer was a resounding call for fluidity in our lives and the way technology can help us be more productive, engage with space, and each other.
Read through a quick analysis of key topics, trends, and questions we saw as being innovative thought starters for how we could be working:
Headphone Space - The need for spaces that allow us to detach is already on the rise, but dedicated communal heads down space could be termed as Headphone Space. Most people use the connotation of having headphones on as a sign to say, "Leave me be." So, expanding on that, these spaces would be almost library-esque in their no talking policy. These spaces could also become no-tech-zones that allow us to disconnect from the constant barrage of communications and engage with each other.
A Campus of Amenities - If the work-life balance becomes blended, do we need a formal office? If not, could the office become a place of singular amenities not found at the home? An example of this could be a drop-in daycare center, or print shop to stop into right before your next meeting.
Preparing for the Unknown - With all the new spaces and amenities added into the office, what happens during a recession? Do these spaces and offerings go away, or could they be more grounded into the workplace so that their functions evolve during a recession to generate financial gains?
It's No Longer an 8-Hour Day - Fluidity allows for work to continue in a seamless manner. Technology should be created to allow for better transition of knowledge. Meaning that we can pass off the project to the next team so that it can be continued to be worked on throughout a 24-hour cycle. Communications like email will need to be completely overhauled to allow for this process to be functional and team-based. Think Slack, but the next evolution.
Tech Transportations - In the gig-economy, more people are living where they want to and not being co-located with their offices. As technology grows, this will continue, but we will be able to get to where our office is when we need to without having to drive long hours or take a flight. These transportation methods will also facilitate connection to our fellow travelers and each other by allowing us to be where we need to when we need to be there.
The Mobile Office - How can technology transport us to the office? We all can set up a home office, but it may not have all the functions of our desk or space at work. New devices could be developed that will change your at home office into your workplace office, so you can work from home but still be in the office and use its amenities. So instead of taking the home to the office, we are taking the office to the home.
Office/Spaces By Personality - The ultimate form of personalization will be having your office and space change to what you need at that moment. This could come in the form of a modularly-built environment that learns what the workers need as the company adapts to new changes. The environment can shape itself around the worker to help boost productivity or engagement.
Inside the The ‘Transformative’ room. Photography: Maremosso
What is After Biophillia? - We are working hard to bring nature into the built environment. What can we be doing that takes the work outside? Could there be protected areas that are conditioned, but still outside? How can technology allows us better access to work outside to gain the interaction with nature our bodies need?
Landscape Forms, Upfit Adaptive Outdoor Structure
These are just a handful of ideas and thought starters we see as being possible in conjunction with the advancement of 5G, modular construction, AR/VR/AI, and the focus on people-centered environments.
Keep up with us for our next Smart Design Forum where we will be discussing the future of retail malls.
by Mark Bryan
Director of Innovation + Research, Senior Interior Designer
A leader and catalyst of innovation and research at M+A, Mark strives to discover ways in which spatial design and technology integration can influence users in a positive way. Mark enjoys exploring design trends and his approach to design is largely influenced by cultural changes and shifts that occur in the world, whether they are major trends or subtle cues.