What will the Office of the Future Look Like?

The office of the future

Freelancers, remote workers and independent professionals are a quickly-growing part of the global workforce. By 2020, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be a contingent workers.

In parallel to this rise of the independent professional, coworking is booming. 2017 saw membership in coworking spaces surpass one million in an estimated 14,000 shared workspace around the world. All signs point to the future of work being shared spaces.

What will the office of the future look like?

In the early 2000s, open plan offices became popular. These offices replaced cubicles and private offices and were designed to encourage collaboration and connection between team members.

But open office layouts don’t work for every workstyle and preference. Workers need a variety of workspace, including quiet areas and areas to work in small teams. Professionals with private offices may even want the freedom to work in community spaces. Whether working onsite for a company, remotely, or as an independent professional, the office of the future will be flexible.

“Tenants want open floor plans but also a place to collaborate and a place to have a private conversation,” Ann-Fleming Powell, Director of Office Tenant Representation at Trinity Partners told Forbes. “It’s a lot of fun to work with the diversity of users.”

Coworking space operators have long understood that people need flexible workspace. Many coworking spaces offer open coworking areas, dedicated desks, shared offices, private offices, quiet areas, phone booths for private calls, meeting rooms and event space. Rather than forcing people to work around fixed environments, the office of the future will contribute to the wellbeing of workers by providing flexible, comfortable workspaces.

When asked what the office will look like in 10 years, Tanya Wood, director of Soho Works, explained to CNN:

“By then we expect the workplace to have become even more comfortable — a place where you choose to spend more time without the pressures and formality of the traditional office. With a call for more flexible working hours already, people are spending less physical time at their formal office. They want spaces that actually cater for, and enhance, their working lives. That could be access to everything from gyms or social space, bedrooms or a provision of studios and specialist equipment or facilities to support content creators.”

The office of the future will support workers in their well-being, flexible lifestyle, productivity and connectedness. This is something that coworking spaces have long understood and offered. It’s nice to see the larger workplace world catching up.

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking and community. She publishes the Coworking Out Loud Newsletter and has written for dozens of publications, including Shareable, Yes! Magazine, Mother Jones and Lifehacker. Follow her on Twitter: @CatJohnson