Designing the workplace of the future

Office life may never be the same again – as a new global survey reveals that the new ‘working from home’ generation is craving connection and collaborative spaces.

The survey, by The Great Indoors website, echoes the findings from Box Architects’ own poll earlier this year. In that poll, Box staff and regular newsletter subscribers said they valued many aspect of working from home – but missed close collaboration with colleagues, social interaction and direct feedback to work.

“This period of forced isolation has left people craving connection and recognising the workplace as a much-needed hub,” said The Great Indoors. “Having experienced full-time home working, only nine percent would choose to continue this arrangement moving forwards.”

The results of these and other surveys will have a major impact on what the office of the future might look like. But Box Architects CEO Graham Place says it’s not altogether new. He said: “The COVID crisis has brought the subject to a head. However, for some time, we’ve been seeing office design as creating places where creative collaboration and communication can occur… a touch-down, meeting and collaboration space.“

These new offices have open spaces, and are enabled by technology and powerful collaboration tools – similar to our recent projects for the VISA Innovation Centre in London and the VW Customer Experience Centre in Leeds.”

The VW centre was designed with the company’s brand palette, something also mentioned in The Great Indoors survey, which highlighted a significant trend towards brightly themed spaces that reflect the culture of the business and promote a sense of belonging. “Office workers are very clear about the fact that they want to be together.”

So what does this all mean for design? Both surveys talk about flexibility and fluidity – and both predict a blend of home- and office-based working in the future. So design needs to facilitate this in the office and for the home. “We expect the home to be the place where quiet production may be a valuable aspect of our work-life balance,” added Graham, “so that will see a change in home design too.”

As The Great Indoors concludes: “… freedom to decide where, when and how we work.”