The Office of the Future

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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Thus, a new generation of workplace was created, allowing workers to immerse themselves in local spaces offering a wide array of highly cocooned or interactive settings to support their needs.

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These spaces, which vary in location and theme not unlike neighbourhood restaurants, have allowed corporations to shed much of their captive real estate portfolios in favour of workspace subscriptions, and have provided workers the freedom to choose when, where and how to work.

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Gaming Inspiration

In addition to helping workers restore a better balance between time at work and home, this decentralized approach to finding a workspace has drastically reduced the carbon emissions historically associated with commuting.  Interestingly, it was gamers - those who were once considered to be chronically unproductive - that helped to usher in this new era of work space.  Screenshot from World of Warcraft The future office may be inspired how online gamers manage teamwork over long distances. 

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After observing how gamers were able to virtually match skill sets and collaborate to achieve shared goals without ever having met one another, HR leaders began implementing project-based prototypes in which work was structured as games.  And since so many existing workplace hardware and software technologies had their roots in gaming technologies, it didn't take long for the gamification of work to be fully realised. 

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Eventually, real estate and facility professionals embraced the notion that the future workplace would constitute a new spatial typology, deeply influenced by the hybridisation of arcades, hotels, homes and restaurants.  The immersive nature of these spaces, which is one of their most notable characteristics separating them from past generations of work places, is achieved via a new generation of connective technologies.  Whereas "mobile phones in bags" and laptops being dragged around in "roller bags" were once considered mobile work technologies, today's mobile work tools constitute an array of interconnected, wearable devices that provide instant access to people and information required to be productive.  When a worker enters a workspace and docks himself or herself in a chair, their wearables easily connect (save for the common connection glitches which the tech companies will likely never fully iron out) with the technologies resident within the workplace and worn by others, transporting them to either an interactive or private virtual space.

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Ryan Anderson, Director of Future Technology

Herman Miller Office Furniture

Mr Anderson says face-to-face meetings will still be a big part of working life, even far into the future.  Workplace holography plays an important role, allowing people to convey verbal and non-verbal nuance in virtual discussions, while streaming translation services allow for someone speaking a different language to be instantly heard in one's native tongue. The prospect of working with people you'll never actually meet and communicating with virtual colleagues are two of the potential scenarios identified by leading thinkers into how workplaces will evolve by 2025.   However, despite these virtual advances, there are key elements in these spaces that remain valuable ties to past modes of working.  Private dining spaces remain popular, as most companies promote "table-time" policies.  These policies, which originated from the world of e-dating, encourage employees to meet face-to-face with one another in person over food and drink whenever trust relationships are being established or, if needed, restored.  Likewise, nearly every workspace provides a comfortable and rich social space known as an IRL (In Real Life) Lounge, which are daytime living rooms for people to interact in person within a local workspace.  These spaces are a reminder that even in a digital age, there is no substitute for the meaning and richness that is derived from interpersonal interactions.

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Recruiting by Robots

Mike Ryan, a 'Digital Futurist' and founder of Fusion Futures, says an array of rules combining Artificial Intelligence and psychology will determine how confident a candidate is, and whether they have plagiarised material or told lies.  "Recruitment companies will use sensitive technology around truth and aptitude which will be similar to those used in the current US elections," he says.  He is referring to the newly-developed Super PAC mobile phone app, which listens to presidential adverts and then tells the viewer who paid for the advert based on campaign donations. It then analyses the claims made in the advert and offers a fact check based on multiple sources and opinions; it's a bit like Shazam with a lie detector attached.

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