On the Hori­zon

WHAT WILL FU­TURE OF­FICES LOOK LIKE? THINK SLEEP­ING QUAR­TERS, SEN­TIENT DESKS AND “FLAT AGE” LEARN­ING LABS

Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _Ken­dra Jack­son

The col­lab­o­ra­tive-work­place rev­o­lu­tion has, for years now, spurred the re­moval of of­fice walls – both phys­i­cal and meta­phoric – in favour of all-ac­cess, ca­sual spa­ces be­lieved to be more con­ducive to cre­ativ­ity. But stud­ies and real-life ex­pe­ri­ence have shown that the all-for-one ap­proach is, in fact, nei­ther all that great for pro­duc­tiv­ity nor in­di­vid­ual work habits. So where do we go from here? And what must workspace de­sign­ers con­sider when cre­at­ing the of­fices of to­mor­row? To grap­ple with th­ese ques­tions, the Lon­don-based ar­chi­tec­ture firm Morey­smith, which has been de­sign­ing of­fices for a quar­ter of a cen­tury, part­nered with trend fore­caster The Fu­ture Lab­o­ra­tory to study “the psy­chol­ogy of the work­force in 2025.” The goal: an­tic­i­pat­ing fu­ture labour-force re­al­i­ties to get em­ploy­ers think­ing about the need for (and value of) “con­sci­en­tious work­place de­sign.” “De­sign-led of­fices should no longer be con­sid­ered [merely] ‘nice to have,’” says Linda Morey-bur­rows, founder and prin­ci­pal direc­tor of Morey­smith, “but as im­per­a­tive to re­tain­ing and at­tract­ing tal­ent.” That tal­ent pool will grow even more di­verse as igen, Baby Boomers and ev­ery­one in be­tween pop­u­late the work­force, each bring­ing their own skill sets and work­ing cul­ture. What this meld­ing of up to five gen­er­a­tions will re­quire from de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects, Morey-bur­rows adds, is a “need to be adapt­able and take diver­sity into con­sid­er­a­tion.” The re­search iden­ti­fied three of­fice archetypes on the rise: the Sen­tient Workspace, the Hos­pi­tal­ity Workspace and the Flat Age Workspace. In­tu­itive and hu­man­cen­tric, the Sen­tient Workspace pro­motes a healthy life­style. Smart sys­tems will be in­te­grated into ev­ery­thing from desks and chairs to re­spon­sive ar­chi­tec­ture and sync with per­sonal wear­ables to mon­i­tor such fac­tors as stress and hy­dra­tion lev­els, to­tal min­utes of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, the tem­per­a­ture of per­sonal spa­ces (à la Carlo Ratti’s “at­mo­spheric bub­bles” for the Agnelli Foun­da­tion in Turin, Italy) and more. The end goal is an of­fice that “cares” about the worker. As its ti­tle im­plies, the Hos­pi­tal­ity Workspace will be a “one-stop ur­ban des­ti­na­tion where work, play and rest are com­bined un­der one roof.” With the 9-to-5 work­day (ex­pected to be) a relic of the past, fu­ture of­fices will need to be hy­brids and in­clude such spa­ces as com­fort­able kitchens and lounges where co­work­ers can so­cial­ize, cafés, bar­ber­shops and even sleep­ing quar­ters – ba­si­cally all the con­ve­niences of a neigh­bour­hood. The Flat Age Workspace will re­flect the con­verg­ing gen­er­a­tions and in­clude ac­ces­si­ble, tech-re­liant and multi-di­men­sional learn­ing zones that de­velop com­ple­men­tary work­ing re­la­tion­ships based on skills and knowl­edge. Ul­ti­mately, suc­cess­ful of­fice de­sign will re­ward the work-life bal­ance and in­spire hap­pier, more pro­duc­tive teams. As Morey-bur­rows puts it, peo­ple are the pri­or­ity. morey­smith.com, the­fu­ture­lab­o­ra­tory.com

An­tic­i­pat­ing the needs of work­ers, Lon­don ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign firm Morey­smith al­ready in­te­grates a range of con­sid­ered en­hance­ments into its of­fice projects, from com­fort­able com­mu­nal spa­ces such as the atrium in Pri­mark’s Dublin head­quar­ters (top) and flex­i­ble co-work­ing zones at Perenco in Lon­don (above) to the in­for­mal mixed-use ar­eas of Deskopoli­tan’s of­fice in Paris (left).

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