th e o ffi c e o f th e

fUtURe
O f f i c e S pa c e G e t S S q u e a k y G r e e n

Expect to see an outcropping of green office complexes that produce more energy than they consume with things like water-conserving plumbing, insulating rooftop gardens and energy-generating solar panels. Companies may even have the ability to harness wind power. Bike racks will encourage cycling to work, and special parking spots will be available for employees who drive hybrid vehicles.

a n at u r a l b e a u t y

One-StOp ShOppinG

To reduce insurance costs, expect more on-site gyms and medical centers. At Cisco’s corporate headquarters in San Jose, CA, there’s a childcare center where parents can check in on their kids online. Expect even more amenities, like on-site dry cleaning and oil changing, to save time.

More natural materials like wood, stone and linen will be used in offices, as well as natural looking, reflective “spa colors” painted on walls. Eco-friendly products, such as energy-efficient lighting and furniture composed of recycled materials will become more prevalent. To maximize natural light, expect more windows and skylights, which may consist of specially treated glass that reduces glare and heat in the summer and can be opened to allow for more natural cooling.

p l ay i n G i t S m a r t

Sensors or “motes” embedded in offices will monitor and maintain conditions like temperature, humidity and lighting to respond to employees’ needs. A desk chair could sense stress in your back and signal a back massage, for example. Companies may use technology to make sure power strips are turned off when they’re not in use. Voice recognition with office equipment will give workers further control over the devices.

c O r p O r at e c a m O

To accommodate changing needs, furnishings will get more flexible, with features like casters for easy rearranging or movable walls that double as white boards. Already, one Microsoft department sits on a raised floor where power receptacles, network connections, desks, even the floor tiles can be rearranged.
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What Will the design office of the future look like? from the computers W e ’ ll u s e to th e n eW s pac es th at W i ll po p u p, h e re ’s a look at What the future has in store for the design Workforce. By Julie sims • illustration By Bas

pull up a chair

While workstations will be smaller, employee common areas, like lunchrooms, will grow larger and more inviting.

remOte cOntrOl

Working in your PJs and fuzzy slippers is a lot more likely in the coming years, as more and more employees telecommute. In a survey by specialized staffing firm OfficeTeam for their Office of the Future: 2020 research project, 87% of executives said they anticipate more telecommuting in the coming decade. They also found that by 2020, there’ll be a 60% increase in Americans over the age of 65. But the 18to-44 demographic will only grow by 4%, which means that many of the aging folks will postpone retirement and continue working.

here’S lOOkinG at yOu

Conference rooms will be in very accessible locations and will likely be made of glass or other translucent materials.

m a i n S t r e e t u S a a r r i v e S at t h e O f f i c e

Just as people congregate in a cozy kitchen during parties, they gravitate toward appealing office spots, which can spark brainstorming. As a result, firms are looking to create more of these “comfort zones.” For example, at Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, CA, workers’ desks are clustered around “Main Street”—an open area that sees heavy traffic and promotes collaboration. (Check out the Workspace column on page 36 to see how a Seattle design firm has incorporated this idea into their office layout already.)

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i N S i D e th e o ffi c e

nO mOre fiGhtinG With yOur cOmputer

better than ever

unpluGGed

Workstations will go wireless, enabling telecommuters, consultants and anyone else to pop in temporarily for work and leave a space ready for the next person. Desks may be equipped with built-in chargers for cell phones, BlackBerrys and other personal gadgets. Wires necessary for computer equipment may be tucked into overhead trusses to save space.

According to the Office of the Future: 2020 project, by 2009, your laptop will be able to respond to voice, handwriting and optical input. Programs will allow computers to adapt to individual users’ work styles for personalized computing, as well as automatically filter information for users, and feature self-healing software.

Computers will continue to become faster and more powerful yet smaller, lighter and less expensive.

cOmbO me alS

“Smart” phones will operate like a handheld computer, storing thousands of contacts as well as accessing the internet. Other devices will follow this trend of combining multiple functions into a single, convenient device.

le av e t he cryS ta l pa pe rWe iGh t S at h Ome

Creatives often like to liven up workspaces with engaging décor. In the future, however, make sure your knick-knacks are easy to carry, since “plug and play” offices—spaces set up so that any employee can use them at any time—will become more common, making them more like workstations than personalized offices.

Get adjuSted

Because so many offices will be shared spaces, much of the furniture and lighting will be thoroughly adjustable.

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c O r p O r at e c h at r O O m S

Being away from the office won’t be an excuse for missing a meeting, as virtual get-togethers become more prevalent. Some companies already hold meetings via Second Life, a 3D virtual world of avatars (or online personas) created by members, where they can showcase projects in a 3D format that videoconferencing doesn’t allow. This virtual environment has another benefit: It allows users to “see” and interact with one another onscreen.

all eyeS On yOu

Expect videoconferencing to step up: Wall-sized screens will project a 360-degree view of videoconferencing partners, simultaneously creating a virtual environment of “being there” and eliminating the need for excess travel.

cubicle Spr aWl

Workspaces will likely become smaller as companies try to reduce overhead costs. There will be fewer corner offices and more democratized space.
WOrk and life: mOre blendinG than bal ancinG

With technology making it possible for employees to maintain productivity everywhere they go and at any time, people will be expected to exercise more control over when and how they work. The not-so-good news? You may be putting in more time than before: 42% of executives surveyed by OfficeTeam said employees will be working longer hours in the next 10 to 15 years; only 9% anticipated spending fewer hours on the job.

Julie Sims is director of communications strategy for The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative professionals and HOW’s official career partner. www.creativegroup.com

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