What will the future workplace look like?

Posted on 12th January 2018 by CMI Workplace

What will the office of the future be like? What key drivers will influence the future workplace and what’s happening now to pave the way?

We have envisaged a workplace 20 years from now, highlighting the key social, environmental and technological factors that will influence it and how different it will be from the workplace of today.

Environmental influences

The environment, our responsibility for it and the impact that the workplace can have on it continue to rise in importance and the office of the future will be required to follow stricter, greener standards and policies that will far supersede the current policies that are in place today. The environmental drum has been beating for some time and the reaction, in business terms, has been relatively slow. Legislation is catching up and greater emphasis will be placed on the workplace. Workplaces will have to become greener, smarter and more sustainable in the way they operate. Not only will legislation dictate this but employees will expect and demand it.

A key focus will be placed on using sustainable energy and meeting defined energy targets. New, green legislation will continue to come into force, and organisations will be expected to demonstrate workplace efficiencies to ensure they are creating environmentally friendly workplaces and adhering to environmental rating systems.

Technological influences

Technology will likely be the single, biggest influence on the future of the workplace. It has already proven to be a major driver for change; disrupting the way we communicate with each other and the way offices are designed. We’ve seen the dramatic pace that technology has evolved in the past 20 years, never imagining what could be achievable in that time. The same could be said for what will be achieved in the next 20 years. What we do know is that employees will continue to expect technology within the future workplace to be flexible, fast and collaborative. Enabling them to think freely and deliver what is expected of them from the businesses they are interacting with and serving.

Whilst technology will play a huge role in the future workplace, it will be important for employees to still be able to communicate and collaborate both face-to-face and also in real time. This feeds the fundamental human need that we are all social creatures and desire that human interaction.

When considering the office of the future, we have to assume that the trend of disruptive technologies will continue. We do not have a crystal ball, so cannot comment on technologies that haven’t been showcased yet but we can predict that the future workplace will create smart buildings and make use of The Internet of Things, limited artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, augmented/virtual reality. We also assume that regular advancements will be made in existing, ubiquitous technology such as displays/monitors, cellular/mobile networks, electronic miniaturisation, mobile technology and internet connection speeds.

Employee wellbeing

Today’s health and wellbeing issues such as musculoskeletal and mental health disorders will be addressed not only through organisations attributing more importance to resolving these issues but also through changes in working practices. As health and wellbeing continue to rise in importance with younger generations, that priority will filter through the workplace even more so. Not only will employees demand that they are provided with the right workplace provisions to protect and enhance their wellbeing at work, employers will also understand that investing in creating a ‘well’ workforce will deliver better bottom line returns.

By addressing the biggest contributors to employee absence from work today; musculoskeletal and mental health disorders, employees will be able to create a workplace of the future that is based on presentism rather than absenteeism. This will be achieved through understanding and catering to the following factors:

  • Human behaviours at work, such as encouraging movement
  • Health factors such as musculoskeletal, stress, anxiety and depression
  • Social interaction such as working more flexibly and creating a healthy and happy environment

We are sure that new health and wellbeing disorders will come to the fore and so the importance will remain on employers to continue to invest in improving the overall health and wellbeing of their employees, creating a future workplace that provides a balance between work, collaboration and productivity and rest, relaxation and recuperation.

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