Will the office become somewhere we live?

Aruba Networks Workplace Futures report: Part 6

The future office will be a manifestation of our new attitudes to work. Zoned areas in which workers can alternate between business and leisure will be an office mainstay. The future workspace will look less like an office and more like a multi-purpose apartment or leisure park.

Social media networks will become Bleisurite business tools as we turn to open and closed networks to manage our increasingly blurred office and leisure routines. In this version of the future, office networks will be used to offer feedback, share ideas, co-create products and improve social cohesion. But the growing use of the virtual will still drive us back to the live and the real.

Jean Nouvel created Office for Living for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan to present a vision of how the future office will be more humanistic, and geared towards creating chance meetings, moments of serendipity and a feeling of togetherness. The interior includes a sleeping area, a gym and a sitting room, along with conference rooms and co-working areas.

"In 30 or 40 years' time we will be stunned to see just how unlivable most of today's offices really were," says Nouvel. "Grotesque clones, standardisation, totalitarianism – never the merest hint of being pleasurable places to inhabit."

Facebook sets the trend

This description is the antithesis of Facebook's planned office construction envisaged by architect Frank Gehry. The new HQ, planned for construction in 2015, will be a one million-square feet Bleisure Hive where engineers will be able to eat, sleep, relax and work.

A rooftop park will have running tracks, tennis and basketball courts, a vegetable garden and an area of woodland. A central square will have cabanas, barbecue pits, and even an area designed as a playground for the dogs of team members.

As open-source culture continues apace, and innovators understand the value of sharing rather than withholding ideas, Symbiotic Organisations will arise that will become greater than the sum of their parts. By sharing space, ideas will be spread, absorbed and brands will be assimilated.

The Supernova store by design agency Kemmler Kemmler at the Bikini Berlin shopping centre sets out to be ambitious, symbiotic and unafraid of failure. Different brands take up residence at the Supernova store to create a temporary experience for visitors.

The power of symbiosis

"Designers must be less afraid of failure," says Katharina Kemmler, creative director and co-founder of Kemmler Kemmler. "There is a chance of big success, but the idea is that you test things out and either they work or they don't. The main thing is to learn from one another."

Advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy has created the Portland Incubator Experiment, or PIE, an incubator that supports technology entrepreneurs, and follows the model of a symbiotic organisation. Wieden + Kennedy enlisted the help of its big-name clients such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Target and Google to support the incubator, which feeds into the work of the start-ups.

"Symbiosis is the perfect term to describe the relationships in the incubator movement," says Rick Turoczy, co-founder of PIE. "Big brands want to be nimble, think disruptively and iterate quickly, and start-ups, by their very nature, do this."

Daniel Burrus, author and technology futurist, agrees, and believes that this symbiosis will bring us to a greater level of interdependency. "The best way to create ideas is to share the best ones we have. Taking this abundant approach, rather than a scarcity approach, helps all of us."

  • Aruba Networks conducted this whitepaper with global trends and insight consultancy, The Future Laboratory. Follow the link for Part 1.