Tech’s Greatest Impact May Be In The Workplace Itself
By Julie Littman
16 May 2017
Photo courtesy Julie Littman
Open floor plans, state-of-the-art amenities and healthy work environments have all been quintessential aspects of tech’s office design. Now that employees have more flexibility and mobility, companies will need to get even more creative to incorporate new and exciting workspace elements.
“Have we reached the maximum extension of [workspaces] or is there another evolution of that?” said Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Louise Mozingo, who recently spoke at Bisnow’s recent Silicon Valley Workplace of the Future event.
Professor Mozingo has been studying the 70-year evolution of corporate campuses, and said tech's impact on the workspace started in the early 1940s. Bell Labs in Summit, New Jersey, had the first movable office walls, a cafeteria with free food and lounges with bamboo furniture to encourage communication among scientists.
Offices have evolved into flexible workspaces as seen in WeWork, which she suggested is the ultimate endpoint of this current office evolution. She said team-based innovation has been important to creating technological advancements.
“There is an intensity in terms of innovation that seems to go along with having a maximum flexibility with how we do work,” she said. “As we become untethered from hardware, that flexibility increases.”
Several questions come to mind about the next step in the workplace evolution, she said. Can the office be evolved further? She said architects are now discussing getting rid of desks altogether and just putting in benches. Will there be a movement back toward privacy as the demographics change?
Companies like Yahoo, Okta and WeWork continue to push the boundaries of the office. Their workspaces offer open floor plans, flexibility, technological tools and mobility. Having flexible workspaces is important because multiple generations from baby boomers to millennials are in the same space and have different workplace styles.
Staying ahead of the game and incorporating technology into the workspace is important to attract more of the Millennial generation, which will make up 75% to 80% of the industry’s workforce within the next few years.