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Work in the office of the future

What will the office of the future be like? And what will business in the future be like? Much more than mere hypotheticals, these are questions that we need to be able to answer now, especially given how business culture and the very shape of business evolve will depend on how these questions are answered. Indeed, they are questions worthy of influential scientific literature, such as the work of Marea Saldarriaga Bueno at Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex (United Kingdom), “The office of the future: a vision for stimulating working environments”, which was recently published online and which provides an interesting overview of how work has evolved and gives a few ideas as to what we can expect for the future.

The author describes the fundamental changes in society, the economy and technology that could have a significant impact on the workplace, both physically and in terms of less tangible aspects.

The paper begins with a diagram showing the three stages of how offices and business have evolved. In the early 1900s, there was only work, but by the mid-1900s leisure became a part of the social climate. By the 21st century, learning was also added to the mix. Thus work and the organization became more varied, more complex. It is no longer just about producing something. Now, we are creating something that previously didn’t exist and are looking outside of the organisation, and doing so for more than just commercial purposes.

The author then explains how the workplace and business culture also change as a function of technology and innovation, as well as of the social needs of the workers, before looking at mobility and working at home, all with an emphasis on delicate aspects such an interpersonal relationships, the spirit of teamwork, and hierarchy. In conclusion, she writes, “Implementing a business culture in a geographically dispersed team is very difficult.” She then adds, “What will eventually bring people together and serve as corporate glue will not be the workspace but the company’s values. The company’s vision, the culture that is intended should be communicated throughout the organisation so that everyone involved know where the boat is heading to and exactly what is it trying to achieve.”

“The office of the future” is a quick read, but one that should be read, reread and pondered at great length.

The office of the future: a vision for stimulating working  environments

Marea Saldarriaga Bueno

Brunel University, Uxbridge Middlesex (UK)