The Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute has published an article in which Steelcase answers the question, “What will the future of the office look like?” As usual, the office furniture leader has no problem being the industry oracle. They’ve been right on the money with many of their previous predictions (probably because they have a big part to play in making them come true). The 10 office design trends covered in the CIRE Magazine article cover a lot of ground. Let’s take a look at which trends are firmly entrenched, the ones that are just getting underway and what’s still waiting up ahead:
Many organizations have already sacrificed their big, private offices to make way for more collaborative space. Workstations and conference areas mix to create the “buzz” factor that employers hope will spark ideas. Architectural walls are being used to structure the interior of the office building, limiting drywall use and adding flexibility.
In the world of the open office, the private enclave is now coming into its own. These aren’t private offices and they aren’t conference rooms. Instead, they are very small, enclosed areas where a team of two to four people can hold brief meetings. They are also the kind of spot where an employee can duck away to make a phone call far from the prying ears of coworkers.
As part of the sharing tend, more and more businesses are adding “touch down” areas designed for mobile workers who are rarely in the office. Whereas companies might have used traditional workstations for this type of extreme hot-desking in the past, there were quite a few designs at NeoCon 2013 that sought to provide touch down spaces with a smaller footprint.
Not Quite Here Yet
Steelcase’s boldest prognostication has to do with technology. In the future, the office building and the furniture that fills it won’t be separate things. Instead, they will be part of a network that allows two-way communication between the various components. This has many implications for real-time, responsive electrical usage, temperature control, lighting, and other aspects of facility management. All of these changes could lower resource usage while improving the employee experience of the work environment.