The future of offices

Since the advent of the modern smart phone in 2007, several trends have appeared that will severely change our work spaces. But right now, not a lot of people are talking about where we want to go.

Trend one: Dilution of the office

Smartphones and the Bring your own Device trend has offices all over the planet scrambling to allow workers to remotely access all the information and systems that are needed to do their job. While this sounds more like a convenience than anything else, offices were originally created to allow people to work together with the same information. This trend turns that on its head and as long as you have a stable internet connection. You’re good to go.

There’s of course one exception. Actual human meetings are still not properly replaced by video chats and their likes. Meeting someone in the flesh still feels more personal and effective. Business lunches and dinners are on the rise.

But is an office really the best place to meet? Go to any coffee shop in any business district and you will see many such meeting taking place. While the office may be great to show off, a coffee place or restaurant is much more intimate and personal.

Trend two: Remote work

At the same time. The people working are less and less tied to physical locations. The same tools that allow you to take calls and answer planning emails at the cafe down stars allow you to do all that work in Singapore just as well.

Because of this remote working is on the rise. Sometimes because of convenience, for instance when parents have young kids. Or for efficiency, there’s simply no need to relocate people anymore.

Some studies even claim remote work is more productive for certain people due to less distractions and less time spent commuting.

Working remotely is slowly but surely becoming a perk in certain jobs.

So what does that mean?

So what does this mean for the future of work spaces?

Well with little needed infrastructure the closest and easiest step to take is the completely free form office. There’s no need for old structures, you can create any sort of space to work in. Many startups in the past ten years have already spent incredible amounts of money doing this.

But let’s take it a step further. Why isn’t the before mentioned coffee shop a real office? Companies like WeWork have been creating shared office spaces for years now and it’s another quickly growing trend. These spaces are closely related to coffee shops but with members only security. Companies love them because they are scalable and no longer a fixed cost.

Where will it go?

Having looked at all these threads coming together. Let’s take the leap into the future and start asking questions about where this trend is going.

1. Old style offices will stop being meaningful.

At least for small to medium sized business. Banks and mega corporations will probably still have them. This means a ton of real estate will open up skirting cities and in business districts all over the planet in the coming decade. The new increase in urbanization is already leaving the old business complexes outside major cities in the dust, I expect this to speed up.

2. Coffee shops everywhere

If you thought you were sick of Starbucks on every corner now, give it five to ten years.

I believe coffee shops, both members only and public, will increase quite a bit more. As will the “living room style sit as long as you want”-restaurant and the beautiful short term rented meeting rooms and presentation centers.

3. Members only

The newest trend on the rise here I expect to be members only clubs. Think of a mix between WeWork and The League. You can rent a space, but have to audition to get in. This will be such a branding value for companies that I expect this to be a big business.

4. Hospitality trumps hotels

The only organizations set up to handle the sort of rentals, hospitality, and level of professionalism these new age offices need are hotels. While they might not turn out to be the winners of this new office culture I expect them to capitalize strongly.

5. Home is the new office.

What about all those remote workers? And home offices? These are questions I’ll follow up on soon, in part 2 The future of homes.