In recent years, we have witnessed significant changes to office design and workplace culture. Open spaces facilitating coworking and collaboration geared towards millennials have replaced closed offices and cubicles, and overall workplace experience focusing on a culture supportive of employee wellness and bonding has taken the stage. But what can we expect in the future? Designing an office space now must take into consideration not only the needs of current generations in the workforce, but those who will be entering in the next five or more years. The needs of Generation Z will highly differ from those of Generation Y, and while creating an exact blueprint may not be possible, certain strategies can position your new office design for success.
In a series of white papers by Haworth, research shows that successful offices are looking not just at the present but into the future. Haworth Senior Research Strategist Michael O’Neil, said in an interview with Dezeen, “Because the planning process for office spaces runs for several years, you could have a building that you’re going to be in four years from now, so you need to have a sense about what’s going on in those kind of time frames.”
What is significant of this time frame? Generation Z enters the workplace in the next five years and the differences between Z and the current Y generation are expected to be substantial, so much so that the exact opposite office design will be necessary for them to flourish. O’Neil goes on to tell Dezeen, “… this new generation is being raised to value order, predictability and clarity, and they’re also going to be highly distracted because of the nature of the way that they use technology. They’re going to come right into the high point of the Generation Y workplace, which is the opposite of what they need.”
So what exactly should designers be planning for? The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) has consulted with experts on future technological advancements that may shift the way we do business. The changes included interactive spaces and furniture, automated business process management tools and sensory-recognition software.
Perhaps it isn’t possible to design around technology that hasn’t come into existence yet, but it is advisable, and more financially responsible, to create an office plan that is flexible and future-minded. For more design predictions, take a look at this article from the Chicago Tribune on the future of office design.