Technology is going to transform not only businesses, but also the individual’s working environment, in ways that have not been envisioned before. No matter how much information we have to be able predict it, the future will have a bit of haziness to it. However, through this haziness, five features of the future office are already clearly visible.
Smaller work desks
As a result of rapid technological changes, the work-desk has shrunk from 8’x8’ to an average size of 5’x2’. With this, the per-person density has now dropped to 100 sq.ft from 200 sq.ft in the 1990s. In the next few years, this density is expected to drop down further to 60 sq.ft per person, as the need to provide every employee with a dedicated desk will get replaced by activity-based settings. The major enablers of this change are: reduction in the number and size of devices, millennial’s focus on open informal work settings and the need on the part of businesses to reduce their real estate spends.
Shared economy spaces
With telecommuting, remote working and freelancing on the rise, dedicated office resources will remain idle for a major part of their lifetime as employees get work done outside the office at convenient locations such as cafés, lobbies, airport terminals and home. Industry leaders and planners across the globe have realised that reducing travel time and ensuring work-life balance are at the centre of talent retention and increased productivity. As a result, organisations will develop workspace solutions that integrate offices with shared economy spaces including co-working spaces, hotel business centres, and work from home/near home option. The gains from such a move are two-fold: Besides reducing the real estate portfolio footprint by 50%, this will contribute to greater employee satisfaction.
More transport options
Transportation options will revolutionise travel. The plethora of options will include driverless cars, drones and even rockets, besides an increasing range of regular transport options, which include trains, taxis and personalised transport. All these options will coexist and allow consumers to pick the mode based on distance, thrill and cost.
Vertical, horizontal and lateral means of transport will cross-connect into cities, buildings and workspaces. This revolution in the transportation sector will be built on the foundations of an extremely efficient and eco-friendly methods to get users from Point A to B. The designs will be in harmony with individual requirements and the natural environment to promote sustainable living.
Buildings and Workspaces will be designed keeping the individual at the heart of all solutions. Workspaces will have multiple options that encourage individuals to sit, stand and be mobile during the work day. This will be achieved by providing walkable work desks (treadmill workstations), pedal collaborative solutions (pedal tables) and posture and massage seats.
Furniture will be designed as devices that promote health and well-being. Big data and analytics will ensure mass customisation as well as individual-driven well-being solutions.
The final frontier for the transformation is allowing fixed assets to be transformed instantly based on user needs. Currently, all assets that provide work, life and play solutions are idle 25% to 50% of the time. Current estimates show that cities are responsible for 60% to 80% of total energy use worldwide. While individuals work, their homes remain empty; when the same individuals retire to their homes, their workspace remains idle. It will not be long before we witness spaces that could act as workspace during the day, change to entertainment zones by evening and sleep zones by night ensuring 100% utilisation of the asset with zero dormant periods during the 24-hour cycle.
Due to these features, the demand for office spaces will be centred around flexible leasing terms. There will be ready solutions for entrepreneurs and start-ups who have budget constraints and can avail offices for trial periods – on a monthly, daily or even hourly basis. Co-working spaces are not only limited to start-ups, bigger companies are also opting to operate within shared working spaces. Co-working spaces is set to be a differentiator in attracting millennials.
( Amit Ramani is CEO & Founder at Awfis Space Solutions. )