The Future Workplace – Will We Still Buy Office Furniture In 2021?
“Forecasting the future of work is an exceptionally challenging task. Today’s fast-paced change is clearly reflected in workplace research, which gives few clear answers about future direction – apart from anticipating further and ever faster changes.
Today’s activity based working environments are radically different from open plan offices that were popular some years ago, let alone from the office labyrinths of the past. While it is easy to see the changes that already have taken place, who could have foreseen these trends?
Corporate offices are traditionally designed to be used for a long time: perhaps five or seven years, even longer. Deciding on office specifications today for a period of just four years would mean that we’d work under those assumptions in 2021. Let’s be honest here: we can only guess what our work will be like then.
When it’s too difficult to make forecasts, don’t. Rethink the model instead: stop treating office design and renovation as projects, and turn them into a continuous process
If work environments could be sourced as a service, why would anyone buy office furniture?
We could dismiss attempts to forecast the future and focus on workplaces that are just right just now. Later, when things change and needs evolve, amendments could be made flexibly as part of the service.
A full workplace-as-a-service package could include several modules such as work environment design, office furniture, metrics and analytics systems, amendments as needed, and workshops with executive and staff teams to understand and develop work culture. Optional service levels would respond to different kinds of needs, and pricing could be based on time and number of staff or otherwise on a value basis.
A key success factor is the ability to continually analyse e.g. utilization rates and user experiences: how are different areas of the work environment used, how often are they occupied, and what do people think of them. Data-driven changes ensure that people always have access to the kind of spaces they value the most.
Continuous optimization of work environment is based on finding and fixing issues – both big and small – that have the strongest impact on well-being and productivity at work.
It’s important to note that workplace optimization does not necessarily mean new office furniture: the change with the strongest impact may well be a slight modification of office layout, with zero new chairs or tables. Should some furniture be left unused, they can be flexibly recycled, in line with our ‘Waste Nothing’ thinking.
Once we learn to use work environments as tools of modern participatory leadership, the ability to make fast changes is a must. Thanks to a service model, workplace renewals are no longer massive and time-consuming projects: it’s all about data-driven management, understanding organizations’ needs and making small updates on the go.
With a Workplace-as-a-Service model (WaaS), work environments are at their best all the time, and not only right after renovations.”
All opinions expressed in this article are not the onus of the publisher nor supplier.