This is a special guest post from Sara Armbruster, Vice President of WorkSpace Futures and Corporate Strategy for Steelcase Inc.
As Steelcase celebrates its 100th year, our research teams are at work forecasting the way societal, technological, and other influences will shape the office in five, 10, and 20 years (and beyond).
In the past century, the workplace evolved from rows of desks in a single room to innovative solutions for collaborating across the digital space. As early as 2000, Steelcase researchers predicted that by 2020, we would see the rise in popularity of team spaces, the evolution of the mobile worker, and the need for a community center that connects people to information and technology. Twelve years later, we’ve already seen many of these things come to be a normal feature of everyday work.
In order to remain competitive and relevant, companies must be deft at collecting these insights and evolving with the changing world. Based on our research, we believe that in the future, the office will adapt to our preferences and will help us unlock our unique potential and what we can contribute through work.
Our expectations for the next 100 years will undoubtedly evolve, though there are themes we see emerging:
· Be self-sensing – the spaces you inhabit will know who you are and adapt to your needs based on preferences and patterns
· Make us smarter – the physical environment will collect data that informs and augments our decision-making; this role of physical space will be essential as jobs increasingly demand creativity and critical thinking
· Be more human – The office will respond to a diverse range of physical, gestural, voice, or other natural interfaces; interfaces will be less machine-based and more human
· Keep us more comfortable – The office will support a wide range of postures and settings, allowing us to be comfortable for longer lengths of time as the lines between work and life become less distinct
These advancements will influence not only the world of work as we know it, but also the work experience that the next generation of the workforce will inherit. Our hope is to foster in Steelcase’s next century a generation of workers who are more engaged, better supported, and better prepared for finding innovative solutions than ever before.