Managers on hoverboards, sharing a cubicle with a robot and having Soylent for lunch? What will our workplaces, colleagues and work lunches look and be like in ten, fifteen or twenty years? We map out the latest developments in the future of work.
1 Greener pastures
Speaking sustainable is not enough anymore. A growing millennial workforce will demand the office cubicles of tomorrow to act greener than ever and adhere to the new rules of sustainability. Nature will no longer be something to keep out — it will be invited in to clear the air, reroot office workers and make them feel connected to something bigger. Too hippie dippy? Think again: eighty per cent of the site of tech giant Apple’s headquarters consists of green space. Plants indigenous to California, drought-resistant trees and a pond provide Apple’s workers with some much-needed peace, and although it’s pretty swish, Apple Park is not just green on the outside: starting from October 2018, the building that is listed among the most energy-efficient buildings was declared to be entirely powered by renewable energy. Talk about being green through and through!
2 Robot buddies
Have sci-fi movies made you scared of robots overthrowing humans in a terrifying global coup d’état? The future might not be that dire. Although AI and robots have been painted as the bad guys, they could bring more prosperity: according to the World Economic Forum, the rise of machines and AI could create 133 million jobs globally in the next ten years. It counters the trope of a hyper-intelligent robot that costs millions of workers their livelihoods. On the contrary — using robots could mean that workers’ jobs get more interesting, at least according to Leslie Willocks, a professor at London School of Economics who has studied robotic process automation and believes that the use of robot will take the robot out of the humans, thus making our day-to-days far more interesting than in the yesteryears.
3 Harder, better, faster, stronger
The office of the future will be populated by the people of the future and those people will most likely be optimising their time — as well as their bodies and minds. Biohacking takes taking care of yourself to another level. It’s all about the macros and the micros, measuring, tracking and optimising, and making us the best versions of ourselves. Dave Asprey, a pioneer of biohacking, launched The Bulletproof Diet after tasting yakbutter tea drinks in Tibet. Asprey claims that, when used in combination with other health tricks, the Bullet Proof Diet boosted his IQ score by 20 points. Whether Asprey is a quack or not, biohacking has permeated businesses everywhere: in some offices, lunchtime conversations no longer revolve around reality TV shows and weekend plans but nutrition and sports, and office gyms are built to promote optimal health. Want to take your office to the next level? Copy San Francisco-based Nootrobox that makes brain supplements and encourages weekly, company-wide 36-hour fasts.
4 At home in the office
A workspace is where we spend most of our waking hours whether we want to or not. However, with flexibility becoming the norm especially in the creative industries and the tech world, what we need and expect from an office is constantly changing. People are spending less and less time in their cubicles and when they are, they want it to mean something. According to an IDC forecast, by 2020, seven out of ten US office workers will be working remotely at some point of their working week.
A need for flexibility and mobility will push companies around the globe to adapt new ways of providing their employees with something special. The office of the future will be a homey hub equipped with gyms, social spaces and kitchens. Gone will be the days of water coolers and drab interiors: the workplace will become a place to socialise, exchange ideas and collaborate.
Words: Matilda Kivelä