What Will The Office Space of The Future Look Like?
Offices are generally an innovation of the 20th century with the progression of the Industrial Revolution when employees worked to build products in factories to the offices which needed to support the growing companies as they developed from cottage industries to large corporations. The support (ie. finance, accounting, human resources, management) requires a different environment than the factory floor. The typical office of the 20th century emerged mid century with the development of cubicles by Robert Propst (Cubicle – Wikipedia). The cubicle was a utilitarian approach to manage employees in an environment which could be efficient and easily manageable. Essentially the cubicle environment became the factory floor for the white collar work force. A half century has passed since the emergence of the cubicle and a new generation is entering the workforce, but the former requirement for office space is no longer necessary as a lot of the rudimentary tasks have been automated or augmented by technology which requires a leaner staff for operations. It has become apparent that companies are requiring employees to be more creative thinkers since they are no longer required to preform simple rudimentary tasks.
In order to leverage the ability of a new workforce, a new style of office space is evolving to accommodate, reinforce, and augment the new office tenant. (Co-Working Office Space – PSFK). Advancements in technology and the internet no longer require employees to be chained to a specific desk, cubicle, or office, but allow workers to work where they prefer. Although this approach makes it more difficult to manage employees, however the new work place creates an open environment to allow employees to interact and spontaneously generate new ideas and allow individuals to aid each other in their tasks. Additionally the new office environments seem to mimic a standard living room or more notably a place where employees can feel comfortable in their environment to reduce stress therefore allowing employees to be more efficient.
Skype’s new office (Skype’s New Office – Dezeen) breaks the cubicle mold and utilitarian design by creating open collaboration environments and space which looks similar to one’s living room. Perhaps this is an attempt to support the new workforce or its a reaction to lure the smartest millennial to their company by creating an environment which feels like a home and feels less like work. Perhaps the millennial will be willing to spend more of their time working in this type of environment.
Society M (Society M Co-Working – PSFK) capitalizes on the new workforce by creating a welcoming environment but also individuals working for many different companies to interact and potentially benefit from sharing information or helping one another. As Starbucks has become the de facto office for the untethered workforce, Society M copies the allure of Starbucks and creates a place where people will have a guaranteed place to work.