Roy Gilbert

Offices in 2050: smart, interactive and fully personalised

Knotel on 5-9 Union Square, NYC

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An article in Time magazine, published in 2000, depicted a futuristic white-collar worker called “Icon Woman” who would find jobs “on the web” to do at home. She would work with “a far-flung virtual stable of teammates (most of whom she’s never met)”, while “her fully wired home is her castle”.

Yet almost 20 years later, workers worldwide still flock to offices each day. The percentage of US employees who work from home increased from 3.3 per cent in 2000 to 5.2 per cent in 2017, census data show — leaving almost 95 per cent still travelling to work.

While few now doubt that offices will exist in 2050, digital and cultural shifts are fast changing the fabric of the office.

“We don’t have to go to work to work. I’ll go to the office when I want to support my sense of belonging, of community,” says Despina Katsikakis, head of occupier business performance at property agent Cushman & Wakefield.

“This means our whole perception of the office as a building needs to shift to the office being a network of physical and virtual places that supports me to do my best work,” she says.

This will bring “reconfigurability” to the office, which is different from the standardisation we see today. Ranks of desks in open spaces are already giving way to features that enable the environment to adapt to workers’ needs. Shared office groups such as Knotel offer moveable furniture, including phone booths and modular walls. Shared office groups such as Knotel offer […]

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