Seven Predictions For The
Future Of Work
From the end of rigid workstations to "on-demand" office design, learn more about what new-generation architects and designers have in store for the office of the future.
Illustration by: Clay Hickson | Photos by: Lance Nelson
Workshop-Series „Future State“
As part of an ongoing series on the future of work, Herman Miller brought together 80 young emerging designers from the U.S. and Canada for four “Future State” workshops. Participants talked about their expectations, fears, wild ideas and crazy assumptions around work, offices and the changing role of the designer. Here, we’ve compiled those thoughts into seven predictions of what the work environments they design might look like in 5, 10, or even 20 years.
How will we work in the future?
Fulfilling work and a decent salary will certainly continue to count in the future, but as technology and the world change, our idea of an ideal work experience is likely to transform as well.
1. The successful balancing act between work and private life
The workshop participants assume that in the future, people as well as companies will draw clearer boundaries between work and private life, thereby enabling a deeper, more meaningful experience of both of these aspects of life. This means also being able to switch off technology, putting an end to multitasking, using analysis to determine when one is most efficient, and finding an activity that accommodates this rhythm (i.e. not necessarily the classic eight-hour day from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon).
2. Time for personal contacts
How will work processes evolve?
We have more and more opportunities in our private lives to fulfill the urge for instant gratification and direct feedback, and this is also transferring to our expectations at work.
3. Staffing according to the Amazon model
The Amazon mentality of “give me what I need, right now” will soon affect more things than just books and streaming TV. Our workshop participants suggest that this acceleration of wish fulfillment, combined with a sharp increase in the number of freelancers, could give rise to a new way of staffing. Companies will then be assembled and rebuilt on a per-project basis, selecting the best talent for their particular roles from a large pool of consultants. This allows them to speed up their processes, be faster to market, develop new things better and faster, and innovate productively.
4. A new era of customer feedback.
Our workshop participants dream of a smart device that could show design teams exactly how people react to a room’s music, furnishings, lighting and general atmosphere. A smartwatch would capture the wearer’s reactions and upload the data to an app. The app then populates a Pinterest page with images that translate a good feeling (which the customer themselves may not be able to articulate) into concrete design inspiration and product suggestions. Together, the smartwatch and app provide direct responses to stimuli in the space, as well as information to implement those insights.
5. Trend toward techno-optimism
Designers talk about their dream that impossible last-minute client requirements – cutting a budget by half a million euros, value-engineering a 10-story building to eight stories – may soon not be so impossible. In our four events, we heard about robotic manufacturing, next-generation modeling software, and automated on-demand furniture production. Although our designers also addressed certain fears around our personal relationships with technology, there was general excitement about the potential of artificial intelligence, Big Data and robotics to aid the design process.
What will shape our workplaces in the future?
Our workshop participants predict that your office could soon be anywhere –
and that you can design it just the way you want.
6. Office design on demand
7. The decentralized office
It’s wonderful to be able to work anywhere, but not everywhere has the best Wi-Fi or the technology needed to collaborate with partners around the world. Workshop participants see an opportunity to meet the needs of an increasingly distributed workforce through an increasingly distributed workplace. The world headquarters will be yesterday’s news. Instead, there will be a series of Work Pods all over the world where you can log in and work as long as you like. Now imagine Work Pods with Sensify… because the Skandi design with Moroccan influences in your local WeWork may not appeal to everyone.
The next steps for Future State
The Future State program is now approaching its third year, and we want to look back as well as look forward. We’ll be looking at the predictions from Future State’s first two years and incorporating some of them into our future product strategy. We look forward to continuing the conversation, continuing to look for the next big ideas about the future of work, and always learning from you.
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