While sci-fi films have long imagined the workplaces of tomorrow as cold and impersonal, increasing evidence indicates that those movies forgot about the human element. In fact “futuristic” commercial real estate is more likely to encourage communing with nature and one another, as well as helping staffers incorporate their hobbies — and even their pets — to work for increased health and productivity. Take a look at some trends you’re likely to see in the next few years.
Wireless technology is freeing staffers from their desks, the demand for commercial real estate that reflects this freedom of movement is on the rise. Part of this trend of “hot desking,” as it’s known, calls for more lounge spaces so that employees can interact with one another in a comfortable space. Large communal tables also are appealing, allowing co-workers to have meetings, share meals or simply work silently together.
Given this increased tech portability, businesses don’t always need dedicated workstations for each employee. That means that more workplaces of the future may have furniture that is easily moved and reconfigured, depending on the needs of the moment — pushing work surfaces together for a six-person meeting, setting up a U-shape for a presentation, etc. To meet this demand, designers are creating furniture that is easily moved and can either interlock or be broken into individual workspaces.
The playful working atmosphere that Silicon Valley is famous for may soon spread to the rest of the country’s businesses. For starters, more office spaces will accommodate pets, which experts confirm can boost morale not just for the pet owners, but for the entire office.
Fun zones are also on the rise, encompassing everything from game rooms with ping pong tables and dart boards to dedicated music spaces where colleagues can jam together. Rather than leading to wasted man hours, these “playgrounds” often build company loyalty, inspire greater teamwork and reduce stress in the employees.
Google’s various global branches, for example, feature free massages, slides instead of stairs and even indoor aquariums and orange groves. Not to be outdone, the companies housed in Chicago’s One Prudential Plaza can partake in the building’s sumptuous clubhouse, or hang out on the massive rooftop lounge.
Making technology work not just for business productivity, but also for employee health, will be increasingly possible. A focus on natural light, as well heating and cooling systems that harness natural energy sources, will reduce mold and other irritants in the duct systems.
Live plants will also become “basic equipment,” given their ability to filter a variety of indoor air pollutants. In addition, fitness centers and on-site clinics are being added by more companies.