Future Friday: The demise of the open work space and the rise of the personalized workspace

by Michael Haberman on October 21, 2016 · 0 comments


This style of office may be a thing of the past.

This style of office may be a thing of the past.

A week or so ago I saw a post on my Facebook feed from John Sumser about open work spaces. It was called Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. It resonated with people who read it, both good and bad. The general consensus was that there are issues with both the space and the people using the space. Soon after that I came across another article about the top five trends transforming the workplace. In this article the term workplace meant work space. We may be shifting away from the open work space to an office that can transform to the personal needs of the workers.

Prognostications from experts

The article was a set of prognostications from various experts in the office design arena. Their visions include”

  • Smarter digital buildings that allow “…digitally savvy employees to manage the temperature, lighting, and even the food choices and background music in their workspace. Smart buildings also provide better indoor air quality and environmental controls that not only improve a company’s environmental sustainability contributions, but also boost employee health, wellness, and productivity. Another productivity increase comes from today’s mobile apps that provide a direct, ‘frictionless’ way for employees to enhance their workplace experience.” The ultimate in personalization.
  • Innovative work spaces. John Forrest, Global & Americas CEO, Corporate Solutions, JLL said “The one-size-fits-all model is no longer relevant as the workplace evolves to become more mobile, flexible and personalized.” New work spaces will provide technology-enabled, collaborative, and high-quality experiential workplaces to cater to what they author called “the liquid workforce” of on-demand and mobile workers. These spaces may even include telepresence robots, such as I wrote about in can Remote Control Robots Be an ADA Accommodation?
  • Design for innovation. As the article posted by Sumser suggests open work spaces can have a detrimental effect on creativity and innovation. Research has shown that “…employees at the most innovative companies benefit from better-designed and more functional workspaces, with adjustable features, collaboration areas, a variety of workspaces, noise management, and access to outdoor areas…”

May take a while

Companies are moving in that direction in many areas. But at the same time I walk into many companies that look like they were printed from the pages of Life Magazine from 30 years ago. So it may take a while for this personalization to occur.


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