What Will The Workplace Of The Future Look Like? 13 Experts Share Their Views [2021]

Raydiant’s Future of Workspace Series featured interviews with experts and professionals to learn more about how the workplace experience will evolve.

Here are some of our favorite responses:

What will the workplace of the future look like?

Nick Iovacchini, CEO of KettleSpace

"Hybrid is here to stay! This is a true sea change moment in which more than 50% of the global workforce will be impacted. A thoughtful hybrid model cuts across a myriad of layers within an organization including: HR policies, talent advantages, employee experience considerations, real estate + facilities, culture, productivity, engagement, and change management. With this much complexity, solution providers need to take a 360 approach and work closely with leadership to understand goals and relevant KPIs across the organization."

Beyond flexibility and choice, hybrid work also helps employers deliver on several other key Gen Z values. For example, 58% consider work-life balance one of their top-3 incentives when looking for a job, which is one of the most significant benefits of a hybrid work model. At the same time, Gen Z seeks out more inclusive and environmentally conscious companies. A hybrid workplace checks all of these boxes, allowing for more diversity in hiring while helping to reduce a company’s carbon footprint and optimize their use of physical space.

Reid Hiatt, Founder and CEO of Tactic

"I think the changes we are seeing to the workplace are just the beginning."

Over the next couple of years, I expect. 80-90% of companies will adopt a hybrid workplace where employees have some level of flexibility in choosing when they work at the office or at home.

I expect that in 3-5 years, we will begin to see virtual reality offices, where employees can work from the office just by putting on a VR headset.

Pavel Stepanov, CEO of Virtudesk

"The future of the workplace will look largely like remote work, or a hybrid-work model. Since covid is still present, businesses will still continue with their safety protocols and procedures, and encourage or require remote work for their employees. We are even seeing companies already allowing their employees to choose between remote or in-office work. This leads to the next point."

Employees will also expect to be more demanding in receiving greater workplace flexibility in terms of their schedule and where they want to work. Because remote work enables employees to ultimately work anywhere in the world (as long as they have an Internet connection), employers will have to adapt to their employees’ changing needs.

Zoë Morris, President of Frank Recruitment Group and Mason Frank International

"The workplace of the future will be different, but not as different as we tend to think. What we do will remain, for the most part, the same. How we do it will change."

I see a lot of flexibility in the future, with more people working remotely. Most of all, the future should mean a better marriage between work and personal lives. This is thanks in part to all the technology that has made our working lives so much easier during these past months, but also thanks to a continually improving focus on the workforce’s wellbeing.

After all, we cannot possibly think about building a strong future on a broken workforce.

Teresha Aird, Founder & CMO at Offices.net

"I believe that the workplace of the future will serve as more of a hub in which employees and managers meet to discuss important projects, upskill through training sessions, socialize to maintain team cohesion, and interact with current or future clients."

These types of workspaces can already be found in a number of locations, with large-scale coworking spaces providing great facilities and extras, such as meeting rooms, on an à la carte basis. I also expect to see some businesses shift to a totally remote model, ditching physical spaces in favour of video calls and day-to-day operations that are organized purely through project management platforms such as Basecamp.

Arthur Iinuma, President of ISBX

"Employees need to feel a sense of belonging to be motivated to drive organizational performance. Organizations face the challenge to create a sense of belonging. The most effective way is to recognize individuals’ contributions. When people appreciate how their contributions play a vital part in advancing organizational goals they will become more engaged and motivated. Organizations that foster a strong culture will be rewarded by improved performance."

Organizations also need to prioritize employee wellness. This entails designing well-being into the work itself. Technology can be used to promote connectivity, increase employee autonomy and optimize flexible scheduling. Chronic workplace stress is an enduring issue that can lead to burnout, negatively affecting employee retention. As employees work from home they face the danger of not having anywhere to escape to if they feel stressed. Organizations that invest in wellness will find that there will be less need to remedy workplace dysfunction.

Yordi Smit, Sales Manager at spacehuntr

"The workplace for the future will be a combination between remote teams and in-person teams. Both will need to interact with each other. This is where the last-minute meeting room bookings come in. Hiring people who work within a different city, state, or country will keep on becoming more ‘normal’."

Companies have learned that remote workers can be just as efficient as teams who come together within the office every single day. Next to that, companies will need to keep providing their employees with the possibility to work wherever each individual professional feels comfortable. The workplace of the future consists of workers who are physically present within a meeting, while others join online.

Mychelle Fernandez, Occupational Health and Safety Consultant, Founder of Working Moms Tribe

"Ironically, the workplace of the future may look like the collaborative workspaces many companies were already in the process of transitioning to (but with resistance). Companies will downsize and cut down on physical footprints as they adopt drop in hoteling office environments. The money saved on onsite operations could then be used to provide monthly/quarterly stipends to employees to work remotely (purchase equipment for home offices and/or to cover monthly drop-in fees at shared co-working spaces like WeWork or the new equivalent of it). For working parents, co-working spaces with a daycare would be an added bonus and may make such space more enticing for working families."

At the workplace itself, the space would be modular and collaborative. Things could be moved around to be shared and reconfigured to meet the needs of those working in the space at any given moment. Most people will probably come in 2-3 times per week to work with their teams while some may never report into the office again if given the option. In theory, traffic will be lighter, or at least dispersed more evenly throughout the day and not condensed into morning and late afternoon evening rushes. By just eliminating the commute, people’s stress levels should decrease, and therefore mood and production levels increase. A hybrid/part-time remote option also helps to avoid negative people/energy in the office which would also help with mental health and productivity.

Tonya Dybdahl, Space Planning and Design Manager for National Business Furniture

"It will feel different but not necessarily look different. Design tenets don’t need to change all that much. Aside from a push to modernize in order to attract younger talent, there’s still a lot of reliable designs made by the leading contract furniture suppliers. The way we interact with these mainstays and new additions will change, though. Private workstations will still need to be laid out in a thoughtful way, conference areas will need to be plentiful, and normal staples (chairs, storage, etc.) won’t disappear overnight. A lot of designs that were created for call center environments may make their way into formerly quiet spaces in order to accommodate virtual meetings at one’s desk. Historically, these solutions have been feature-rich but hard to distinguish from their base model counterparts."

There will be an increased demand for personal space, be it at a permanent workstation or in individual areas throughout the office. Part of this will come from wellness concerns coming out of COVID-19, not just as preventative measures but out of concerns for future crises or an upcoming cold & flu season. Single-person soundproof areas will become a great place to have a virtual one-on-one meeting with a remote colleague, eliminating the guilt that comes with occupying a whole conference room for a small meet-up.

Lauren Leach, Director and Commercial Real Estate Expert, Conway MacKenzie, Part of Riveron

"The workplace of the future will be very different from the models office workers were accustomed to before the pandemic. When companies faced government-ordered shutdowns and office closures, employees figured out how to work from home, and employers realized their employees could rise to the occasion and make it work. As a result, company decision-makers have changed the way they view physical presence in the office. There are many benefits to having employees together in a shared space including comradery and collaboration. However, organizations benefit from remote work because it offers employees comfort, lack of a commute, and fewer distractions, which can strengthen productivity and employee loyalty. The future will incorporate the best of both worlds: flexibility. Employers will offer their employees a hybrid model which incorporates both time in the office and time working at home. Depending on the specific business and its demands, some companies will outline schedules and specify when each employee is required to be in the office, while others will allow the employees themselves to make those decisions."

Isaac Smith, Marketing Operations Specialist, FreeAgent CRM

"The workplace of the future will serve as a cultural hub for many businesses. People are social creatures and a strong team dynamic is still a necessity for most companies. While working from has many advantages, strong teams are not built over video. In order to incentivize employees to engage the office environment, I think it will have to become a more appealing place to be. Money saved on leasing costs can be invested in culture upgrades such as better break spaces and attendance rewards like food and snacks. Events and celebrations will also play a part in turning the office from a detention center into a go to destination. This will also change the way people interact while in the office as more freedom will have to be given to employees to build relationships through shared interests that may fall outside the purvey of work-related topics. The office will become a fun place to hang-out, catch-up, celebrate and share in company culture activities such as group training. That’s not to say that work won’t be done; I just believe there will be a greater emphasis put on what have been up to now, tertiary considerations."

Ginny Caldwell, Director of Interior Design, Southeast Venture

"In general, workspaces will be more flexible and collaborative. These “on-demand” or “hotel” spaces have become very popular. They allow employees to move around the office individually or in groups – they’re no longer necessarily tied to one desk, especially if they’re working on a hybrid schedule."

That being said, many will no longer be tied to an office at all. Remote work and meetings with people from all over will become commonplace – it’s not going to go away now that we’ve seen the possibilities and efficiencies that collaborative technology has opened up.

Leslie Saul, President of Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc

"There will be fewer cubes, and more social spaces and collaborative spaces, as well as private quiet rooms."

Remote working tools, including Zoom, may be used to keep in-office and WFH employees on an equal footing.

Affinity groups for seating or in extra rooms will help foster attachment and engagement. Affinity groups are non-work related, such as people who like plants, or beer making, or knitting. Encouraging employees to bring their whole selves to work will benefit the company with more engaged and happier workers.