The future of work is a fascinating topic, what with the increasing popularity of remote work, freelancing, and gig-based income, as well as the rise in self-employment among millennials. So what will the office of tomorrow look like, with all of these changes quickly taking shape? We spoke to Jonathan Webb, vice president of workplace strategy at KI, which designs furniture for offices, hospitals, classrooms, and the like, to learn about the company’s research on the topic and his predictions for upcoming office trends.

“At the end of the day, the top issue for employers is attracting and retaining talent,” Webb notes. “And with today’s historically low unemployment rates, the race for talent is greater than ever — businesses are getting creative with how they attract new hires and keep them happy, especially as younger workers seek employers that are flexible in terms of work schedules and the physical workplace itself.”

Webb tells us that his predictions are based on three big overarching trends: technology, workplace wellness, and work-life balance. “Organizations centered on maximizing these three trends are finding that they have to design their workplaces to accommodate them,” he points out. “Few people can be productive, happy, and healthy all the time when they’re stuck working at a desk from nine-to-five, Monday through Friday.” While Webb agrees that there are tactics anyone can try to improve the way they work, KI’s research shows that companies that invest in keeping members healthy and happy are better able to cut healthcare costs, see less fewer sick days and less absenteeism, and improve productivity.

Woman at office

5 Ways Your Office Might Change in the Future

1. Technology will be a top priority. Webb believes that companies will keep up with the latest and greatest technology to empower employees. “This enables workers to control their personal and group workspaces, plus easily collaborate with employees in and out of the office,” he shares. In terms of noticeable changes, you might see tech-driven lighting and temperature controls, as well as software or tools that make it easy to keep track of shared meeting spaces.

2. Workplace wellness is here to stay. According to Webb, keeping team members healthy is a trend that’ll become more and more mainstream. “To improve workplace wellness, employers are already using outdoor workspaces and natural lighting in the office. They’re also encouraging movement with sit-stand desks, in-office gyms, or exercise classes, and sometimes even hiking trails near the workplace. I believe this trend will stick around, extending to offering in-office exercise classes and healthier food choices in company cafeterias,” he states. “I’ll also argue that designing workplaces to encourage more movement is a more successful strategy for organizations as a whole. At KI, we call this ‘active design’ — it’s the process of designing a space with inherent movement in mind.”

3. Companies will invest even more in time-saving perks that aid in work-life balance. Does your office already offer perks like laundry service or food delivery that save you time? Webb thinks companies may double down on these efforts in the coming years. “I can see employers offering services in the office that continue to maximize efficiency among their employees,” he predicts. “Things like on-site manicures, haircuts, child care, or even massages could become commonplace.”

4. More relaxed workspaces will rival the traditional setup. “While many organizations still have a one-to-one ratio of an employee to a workstation at corporate companies, the size of the actual workstation is ever decreasing,” Webb points out. “Our research found almost 90 percent of college grads felt ‘lost in transition’ moving from school to the corporate world. I see employers designing offices more like college campuses, where ‘third spaces’ (inspired by coffee shops and lounges) are paramount to the traditional desk or cubicle.”

5. IRL collaboration will become more important. According to Webb, collaboration is key — and scoring actual, in-person face time with teammates is becoming increasingly important. “Our research also found that 80 percent of tech firms (which are the companies inspiring workplace trends nationwide) actually prioritize face-to-face interaction,” Webb shares. “Even more, the majority of their office space (60 percent) is used for collaborative areas instead of individual workstations.” If you ever needed an excuse to hunker down with your work bestie to GSD at the office, consider this it.

How do you think offices will change in the future? Share your predictions with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)