Office or leisure park?

A new model for work will emerge to replace the drab office, according to a report by The Future Laboratory. Heather Greig-Smith takes a look down the rabbit hole.

Google NY microkitchenCommissioned by Aruba Networks, The Futures Report predicts revolutionary change in the way we live and work as we move from the industrial age to that of cloud computing and mobile connectivity. In this brave new flexible world, nine to five will be the exception to the rule and the result will be more collaborative and less hierarchical, it says.

The report says we can expect to see the birth of ‘bleisure’ thinking and spaces, as business and leisure become increasingly blurred. Technology now means we can work when and where we want so basing our working lives on the eight hour days of the industrial revolution is nonsensical.

“Against the backdrop of these changes, new ways of doing business and designing offices are irreversibly changing a landscape that has taken more than 200 years to develop,” says The Future Laboratory co-founder Chris Sanderson.

Enter the ‘village hall’ approach to the office, where designers give thought to interaction and creativity, encouraging people to move freely through the space and bump into colleagues, generating ideas and sparking collaboration.

The rise of mobile technology means we are no longer tethered to desks, the report points out. “In this new office environment – collaborative, flexible and open – brands are placing emphasis on community and adopting a more employee-centric model of working. With this, we are seeing hubs, villages and communities, rather than departments, headquarters and hierarchies.”

As well as flexibility, the report covers the 3D printing revolution, the ‘internet of things’ and the massive capability these have to change everyday life.

It points to #GenMobile millennial workers as a key demographic for employers. “A recent survey of the #GenMobile tribe by Aruba Networks suggests that nearly half prefer non-traditional working hours, that is, outside the usual 9:00am–6:00pm. Nearly a third (29%) of those prefer to work during late evenings. Almost two-thirds (63%) believe their mobile devices help them to manage their lives. This generation is ringing the changes around the workplace.”

Pay per minute cafeIn addition, The Future Laboratory suggests we are moving towards a flat work structure environment, where there is little place for the full-time employee culture. Instead people are brought together to work on specific projects and disbanded when that work is complete.

“The biggest trend we are seeing is enabling people to work in flexible job designs,” says Jobshare Project founder Sara Hill. “Senior roles are becoming much more about project-based work. Many brands stumble at this prospect, of placing people in long-term temporary opportunities. There will be a significant trend towards job-sharing; that is, working together part-time in a full-time role.’

The report is peppered with inspiring images of workplaces – all of which will have no problem attracting discerning workers through their doors. “The future workspace will look less like an office and more like a multi-purpose apartment or leisure park,” it says.

Those in bland, open plan offices beware. The leisure park is coming to an office near you.Google Dublin

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