What needs to change in our way of thinking in order to make the Office 4.0 a reality?
There needs to be “change management”. A company’s leadership must change and become more open and flexible. It doesn't say very much about the productivity of an employee if they take frequent smoking breaks. If colleagues bring their laptops share a coffee together, it doesn’t automatically mean that they are not working effectively. Just because an employee has accumulated a lot of overtime, it doesn't mean they have managed to do more work. This is where our way of thinking needs to change.
In addition, a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation has shown another dilemma obstructing any fast transformation of offices: Around 50 percent of employees always welcome new ideas. By the same token, though, there is another 50 percent who say that things are fine as they are and should stay that way. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get all employees excited about changes in their professional routines. Therefore, if there are any upcoming changes planned, the HR department should pay attention to an employee’s openness to change as early as during the recruitment process.
What will remain of today's offices?
The people. And the social interaction that we need. Even though working from home is currently experiencing a revival, we will continue to need social contact. Until recently, working from home was rare. The fact that it is now more popular is primarily due to faster Internet connections, which are an important requirement to work effectively from outside the office.
Flexible working hours, flexible workspaces, and home office are keywords that are all associated with Work 4.0. If the employees don’t have assigned desks any more, how can workspaces be adapted to suit individual needs in the future?
Companies that have already tried out the idea of working without set workspaces have seen that it doesn’t necessarily make sense. It wastes time if you introduce a scheme in which the employees arriving at the building in the morning first have to reserve a desk where they will work. Setting up your workspace every morning wastes a few valuable minutes. However, so-called work benches might make sense. Each employee can choose between different workspaces in one area. Therefore, everybody knows where individual employees are found, but the office itself can still accommodate the employees’ varying needs.
How will office furniture change in future?
Technology is becoming an integral part of our office furniture. Cabinet fronts will be magnetic boards to write on, while tables will include visible or invisible inductive charging stations. Docking stations will be just as much an important part of the furniture. Central zones in office spaces as a meeting area for discussions are increasingly popular.
A problem frequently associated with the planning of the offices is that the building grid does not allow much width in the rooms. Here, it would actually make sense to pay attention to the office furniture as early as during the planning stage, or even to collaborate with the architect during construction if possible.