The Future Office Is Almost Here


Will it meet or exceed our expectations? According to a LinkedIn survey that was turned into a charming infographic by Needa Shredder (yes, they sell shredders), workers have certain expectations for what things will look like in 2017. Among the items they think will be obsolete are Rolodexes, fax machines, and cassette tapes. That’s probably realistic. More wishful fantasy is involved in imagining that the following three features of a typical work environment will disappear. These are things we believe will stick around for a while:

Offices with Doors

Do survey respondents really think every employer in the country is going to renovate their office space to a different layout? Or, did they just think the doors would be removed from the existing offices? Certainly, managers and HR personnel will balk at completely gutting the last really private and reasonably secure spaces in the workplace. Plus, unless every sector is able to find a way to make knowledge workers productive in an open environment or offer remote work as the norm, closed-door offices will still serve a purpose. However, they might be shared in a hot-desking sense instead of being dedicated to a single individual on a full-time basis.

Cubicles

There’s no data listed on the infographic about whether the participants who think offices with doors are about to disappear are also those who think cubicles are going “bye-bye”. Perhaps both groups think that flexible open office floor plans with a mix of bull-pen style desk layouts, casual meeting areas, and conference rooms will prevail. The fact is that sometimes cubicle workstations are preferable to desks. Instead of making workers feel too cramped, the walls can actually help preserve a little privacy and cut down on noise. One thing is for sure, as long as there are call centers still based in the U.S., cubicles are here to stay.

Desktop Computers

Yes, tablets and smartphones are great. Yes, more and more employers are allowing workers to bring these devices with them (some may even start making it a job requirement). However, handheld devices are typically better-suited to consumption than creation. Workers who need to be productive on a computer will still need a screen and a keyboard—and laptops still aren’t a good ergonomic alternative for long-term use. We’re betting that desktops, and the desks that go with them, will still be a feature in most offices in three years’ time.


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