The changing office – what does tomorrow’s workplace look like?
The subject of Workplace 4.0 is something we at Klöber are looking at very closely. Many trends and studies predict the transformation and digitisation of the workplace in different ways – but I want to gain a more accurate idea, so I asked someone who ought to know: Jörg Bakschas is an expert when it comes to workspace strategy, change management and system ergonomics.
Mr Bakschas, what do companies need to watch out for with regard to “changes in the workplace”?
Organisations can expect many changes ahead. First of all, the whole corporate culture needs to be scrutinised. Many companies have their own vision of what the workplace of the future should look like and of “Employee 4.0”. Unfortunately these preconceived ideas are at odds with reality: a fantastic lounge area with WiFi, coffee bar and smart devices that isn’t used for communication between team members – for instance because the boss doesn’t like it – is not the right approach. The most important thing is to adapt business models, digitisation, project management and also agile operations. Future-oriented thinking is especially important when it comes to furnishing rooms: ergonomic office furniture and new room concepts can be expensive, but they pay for themselves in the long run – particularly in the climate of today’s “war for talent”!
What does seeking an employee have to do with the workplace of the future?
It is becoming harder and harder to find good employees and also keep them. An attractively designed room influences the decision of prospective employees as to whether or not they should take a job. A fun workplace, the general atmosphere in the company and the rapport between colleagues are top priorities, especially for Generations Y and Z. Attractive room concepts and in particular digitisation of the working environment support this, of course.
What should the employees expect?
The golden rule for “Employee 4.0” is lifelong learning. New working models entail changes of a communicative, spatial and technical nature. The outcome of this is a significant increase in exchange behaviour – both spatial and personal in character: flexible furnishing and digitisation make networking possible for employees! Admittedly I anticipate a huge challenge here: people can be resistant to changes like this at first. This behaviour modification and the willingness to accept the concept of Workplace 4.0 could be a long process.
What is meant by the “work-life office”?
The goal is to take the strain off employees: a variety of available spaces equipped with individual technologies and smart devices simplifies work processes. The two areas of “life” and “work” were previously quite separate but are now becoming increasingly interlinked, for example through company childcare facilities, gyms, quiet zones and shopping opportunities. Intelligent furniture and smart buildings also support employees – for instance “The Edge” in Amsterdam, the most future-proof building in the world.
Intelligent furniture is becoming increasingly popular – as an office furniture manufacturer we are especially interested in this subject. We have laid the foundation stone for this and developed products with an innovative character in the shape of our climate technology chairs. This helps to save energy costs and increase comfort.
Yes – as well as comfort, saving energy costs is becoming an important concern too. But also increasing the flexibility of time and space utilisation.
Will central offices even be necessary in the future?
There will always be a need for the fixed workplace. But flexible workstations, open room structures and more collaborative areas will exist and they will simplify and encourage networking and communication between people.
We have addressed the theme of Coworking Spaces on our blog before too. What role does this working model play in Work 4.0?
A very innovative and supportive one! If a company does not yet know what direction to take, it’s a good idea to give employees the opportunity to sample coworking spaces. The results of an “outsourcing test” like this can characterise the design of workstations and room layout, as well as the corporate culture.
What will Workplace 4.0 be like?
In future there will be personally allocated workstations, but also communal ones. Open space offices will be designed and furnished individually: depending on use and requirement these can then be booked via an app. The BOYD (bring your own device) concept allows a flexible and individual working approach.
The Connex2 product family would be absolutely ideal for individually configured room concepts of this type – the chair can adapt to each different user thanks to its auto-response functions.
Yes. To conclude, I should just like to say that every company has a different interpretation of Workplace 4.0. My advice is to involve your workforce in tests and trials to see what works best for the company!
Jörg Bakschas is a speaker, workspace strategist, futurist and change coach. He has more than 30 years of experience cooperating with international teams from various industries in Europe and the USA. Jörg Bakschas has been the owner of Headroom Consult in Nienstädt for the last 8 years. He has spent many years collaborating with Fraunhofer IAO on the joint research project Office21, which has formed the basis of his research into the future of Living & Work.
Do you have any more questions or suggestions? We would be delighted to receive any feedback.