When you think about it, workstations of the future are already upon us. The future is now.

Think about it - fewer people work in an office each day. Many more work from home. As a result, many of us no longer need file cabinets to store all our information. We don’t need conference rooms to have meetings, or laptop computers to send e-mail. Indeed, there are some who don’t even need desks.  Another force driving the change is climate change and the growth of environmentalism. Combined with technology, it will transform offices completely.

Miniature wireless devices, WiFi, WiMax and mobile technology will allow staff to work outside of the office with greater ease. Virtual environments and web-based conferencing services will provide off-site employees with real-time access to meetings, reducing the need to travel. 

There will be more telecommuting with improved wireless connectivity. People will be putting in more time at work but they will do so using tools that provide more control over their schedules and enable them to better balance priorities. There will also be an increasingly blurred line between work and other activities; people will need to multitask to meet all of their obligations efficiently.

Also, the next generation of workers will all be “digital natives”. They’ll go for open floor plans, mobility and multitasking. Because they are totally at one with technology, the office will become an anchoring physical location away from the digital realm. But they could be, and will be, working anywhere. And that means one thing: the blurring of lines between work and private life.

Mobile working will be the norm for many organizations. That means less travel and hence face to face contact, but more collaboration overall through appropriate technologies. The generation of employees raised on Facebook will embrace new technologies. They’ll be highly adaptive. The older employees and managers, less so.

With all the focus on innovation, a lot of offices will be designed to maximise mingling. According to the popular story put out by Google, Gmail was the result of engineers talking to each other. This might explain why Samsung is planning a new US headquarters that bring employees from different departments, from salespeople to engineers, together in vast outdoor areas sandwiched between floors.

With sustainability now a big issue, we can expect more workspaces to providing individually controlled light and temperature settings. Some will even have living green walls. These are walls covered in greenery or vegetation which can be incorporated as office partitions or as an alternative to the conventional unadorned office wall. As well as the foliage being a tasteful visual display, interior green walls offer a number of other benefits such as encouraging the rate of fresh air exchange and discourage allergenic mould growth.

And with the lines between work and life blurring, with more people keeping odd hours, we can expect more workplace to have sleep pods and gaming rooms, anything to create the sense that the workplace is like a home away from home.

Written by David Fastuca @Locomote

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