Elizabeth Lowrey contributes her insights on the future of the workplace for Boston Magazine’s “The Future of Everything: 10 Long Term Predictions for Boston” for their April issue.
The office will no longer be a mandate, so it will become a magnet. Why? Because hybrid working is here to stay. Work from home will become work from anywhere, so in-person and virtual collaboration will continue and offices will be redesigned to accommodate hybrid working. People will long for in-person collaboration. The results from the creative energy of “being in the room” cannot be replaced with “being on the call.”
How do we get from here to there? The office has to be redesigned and recalibrated for its new uses. Expect a renewed emphasis on health and wellness. There will be more natural sunlight streaming into the office, for instance, and more indoor plant life. You will notice the circulation of indoor air more than before.
How we actually work in the office will also undergo a dramatic transformation. There will be fewer file folders. Workers will be untethered, and previously used open social areas, like the café, the outdoor terrace, the foyer, or the building’s lobby, will become team-collaboration work areas. Perhaps the biggest change, since we are already doing the solo work remotely, will be that the previously open fields of individual workstations will also become team-collaboration work areas.
The new office must be something people want to come back to. It must be about creating a community, a destination with a heart and soul. That means being in a neighborhood with small shops in the vicinity, with a place to have a drink and a place to exercise. There needs to be collegiality and convenience.
Ultimately, the office will become a magnet because it will be a hub of learning, mentoring, socialization, collaboration, and innovation, which will yield more-impressive results than just remote working. And that’s beneficial for both employees and employers.
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