As wellness continues to move up the design agenda, Make considers the future of the office and the kind of workplace it could become.
The future office will be a human office, created with people at its heart. Designed for humans to flourish, it will respond to people’s diverse social, biological and intellectual needs. In the future, workplaces will provide a stimulating environment which encourages the innovation, wellbeing and productivity essential to sustainable, thriving businesses.
Workspace will be designed holistically to allow people to interact in a more natural way than what’s allowed by the rigid, desk-bound model prevalent today. By acknowledging the richness of human life and behaviour, we can replicate it to form an exciting ecosystem which recognises the countless physical and organic connections which form a vital environment.
“By acknowledging the richness of human life and behaviour, we can replicate it to form an exciting ecosystem.”
Central to this is designing space which provides flexibility for different types of businesses, whether financial services or tech, whose staff will use the space in different ways. Multiple modes of working – such as quiet concentration in an isolated spot, collaborative working in an informal meeting space, admin work standing at a table with a device, or making phone calls from a booth – will be tailored for. Technology will play a fundamental and discreet part in enabling people to work as flexibly as they like.
It’s equally important to have spaces where people can relax, socialise, eat and play. Whether it’s yoga on a green roof, sleep pods in a designated ‘quiet corner’, or a canteen offering locally grown fruit and veg, these spaces are vital, as people are ever more focused on health and wellbeing. Providing spaces for these activities will look after people’s social and emotional needs, allow them to physically recharge, and provide rich territory for new ideas.
Spontaneous, natural interactions which create community and inspiration will occur as people move between activities and spaces. Analysis of behavioural patterns and business structures will allow designers to evolve and adapt space and routes accordingly. This could result in more flexible lease arrangements, allowing tenants to shrink, grow and restructure more efficiently.
“Spontaneous, natural interactions which create community and inspiration will occur as people move between activities and spaces.”
In the future there will be less physical division between indoors and out, allowing the outdoors to come into the building, bringing people closer to nature. Based on humans’ innate attraction to nature, spaces will harness biophilic design creating extensive visual connections, greenery, natural materials, circadian lighting and pleasant acoustics. Building facades will clean and filter natural air while also enhancing and maximising natural light. Together, these elements will create a less stressful and therefore more productive environment.
Workplaces will achieve zero-carbon wherever possible and start to learn how to generate positive energy back to the environment. Reuse will be paramount, and developments will maximise the use of historic fabric. This will contribute to lowering carbon, as well as providing a unique sense of identity for the workplace and staff. Companies that express their brand values within their overall design will also benefit from greater staff engagement. At ground floor, offices will nurture connections to the public realm, with fully customisable space which invites people in, allowing businesses and users to fully engage with the wider community.