“Suddenly, real estate didn’t seem so real any more. I realized just how rapidly ways of working in the office were changing, and how radically these changes would affect the conventions upon which office design and real estate practice have been based for decades. But I saw that what was more important was that everyone will be affected by the changes because they are irreversible…” – Francis Duffy, Design Strategy for the Future Office.
It is true that every aspect of the workplace is changing. There is a wave of new construction that is not waiting for strict environmental standards to be imposed decades down the road, but instead opt for current third-party certification such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,) that promote sustainability, total cost of ownership efficiency and indoor-environment quality. We’re also faced with a multi-generational workforce – Traditionalists; Boomers; Generation X and Millenials – that have different ideas of what the workplace should be and how the work is done. The younger generation thrives off of collaboration and a dynamic office, changing the way walls and the ‘corner office’ are being perceived.
· “We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” – U.S. postmaster general Arthur Summerfield, in 1959.
· “By 1985, machines will be capable of doing any work Man can do.” – Herbert A. Simon, of Carnegie Mellon University, 1965.
· “With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.” – Business Week, August 2, 1968.
To predict with absolutes (i.e. guiding a rocket) is a complex mathematical process where skilled professionals dedicated to that task are enlisted. To predict the future based off of various and sometimes contrasting research is risky. The human factor: psychological, social, socioeconomic, physical and biological characteristics make it virtually impossible.
Everyone is trying to predict what the future office landscape will look like. Some people use industry terminology and complicated analysis to sound credible and convince the unsuspecting. Others are doing the right thing: they are using the available research and resources available to them to encourage ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ and improve ‘Return-on-investment.’ By addressing the present efficiently is the only way we can possibly attempt to predict the future.
The people that sit at desks and use the valuable space an organisation purchases are specialists in their respective lines of work. Technology is a tool that they utilize to aid them in the bottom line, it is not a requirement. The best way to illustrate that statement is to say that the world was still spinning in 1938 and 1972, preceding the invention of the computer and the internet respectively. ‘Virtuality’ is not what we need, if it catches on it’s because it is what we want.
To reference ‘Contract Magazine’ (which has several articles on the future office) whom publish articles specific to the contract furniture market: One of them that jumped out at me was ‘Characteristics of the Future Office’ by Ruth Jansson, CID, IIDA, LEED AP. In her article she spoke of workplace standards as well as the influencers in designing such standards. These standards are adhered to when expanding or reconfiguration. She also touches on speculative spaces, another area of design which supports total cost of ownership. These methods are some of the closest we can come to providing the most efficient solutions for your organisation without running the risk of incorrect predictions.
Until next time – go change the world. P.H.
1. http://www.2spare.com/item_50221.aspx (just for the quotes, we don’t really go there for the endless entertainment they have to spare.)
2. University of Michigan: Centre for the Study of Complex Systems
5. Contact Magazine
6. Teknion Corporation
• Cynthia Kirkland Odell
• Demographic Change in Canada: Making Sense of Trends and Drivers. Presentation to 2017: The Workplace, University of Waterloo, October 16, 2007. Mark Schaan, Retirement and Ageing Division, Strategic Policy and Research Branch.
“MasterFormat 2004 Edition Numbers & Titles” 6/8/2004 downloaded 07July06Design /Referenced 3/31/2010
• http://www.carusostjohn.com/artscouncil/history/origins/index.html, http://www.generationsatwork.net, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-World_War_II_baby_boom, http://annaliotta.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/06/what_shapes_the.htm, http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9750972-7.htm, http://www.wbdg.org/design/design_change.php, http://www.artofthefuture.com/JCRE2.html, http://conferences.cis.unisa.edu.au/2006/tabletop2006/notes/Industrial%20Design%20&%20Table%20Top%20Desgin%20Issues%202006.pdf,
7. Does Matter Vol. 2 – Published By Teknion
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