© Elnur / Fotolia
Although predicting the future of work down to the smallest detail is well-nigh impossible, it is possible to take a good guess about the direction in which it is headed. Even today, our daily work is already being made easier by high-quality technologies, cloud computing and smart furniture – these are changes which are to all intents and purposes unstoppable. Another aspect of this is that, driven by technological change, work is becoming ever more flexible. Globalisation is bringing individual states into ever more closely-knit networks – companies must react fast and innovate in order to remain competitive in the future.
Demographic change is an especially significant factor affecting developments in the employment market. The average age of employees is increasing, but the low birth rate means that far fewer young workers will be available. The younger generation's changing expectations with regard to their work environment as well as the shortage of skilled workers are forcing companies to rethink their positions. Gen-Y and Z workers no longer merely focus on salary and opportunities for advancement – flexibility is key. Location-autonomous independent working, the reconciliation of family and work, and a proper work-life balance are significant factors influencing their choice of employer.
The criteria for flexible working, in both spatial and time terms, are today easier than ever to meet thanks to technological change, and the hallmark of the future of work will be the unstoppable development of new technologies. Companies today are faced with the challenge of adapting to new circumstances – resulting from digital transformation. Digitisation opens up opportunities to keep in touch with colleagues, business partners and supervisors, even outside of the traditional office environment. Information and communication technologies are changing the world of work: powerful Internet connectivity, mobile end-user and smart devices all enable work – anytime, anywhere. We can only assume that the future will bring further drastic changes to our work and private lives.
© kantver / Fotolia
Although the world of work is changing at an unprecedented pace, driven primarily by technical development, employees still value the opportunity for "real" interaction. In a virtual world in particular, people still want to interact socially. The office workplace will for this reason not die out – instead, it will change. New workplace models are emerging, for which functional and flexible set-ups with an intelligent integration of technology are required.
Smart working is key when it comes to flexible, mobile, free and independent intellectual working. What will be the outcome? According to current labour market forecasts, there will be fewer fixed positions in future – while project work and freelancing will increase. The future of work will also involve so-called agile "work swarms" – heterogeneously structured working groups with external participants, such as freelancers. These are increasingly replacing traditional teams, which usually work together over an extended period of time in a single location. "Work swarms" are characterised by their speed- and activity-oriented work group structures, their autonomous task management and the eventual dissolution of the group. This results in structural changes in the organisation of work – company boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred.
Today, companies, architects and planners are already having to deal with these expected changes in a modern and technology-driven world of work, and act accordingly. Flexible spatial designs to meet the most diverse of requirements all form part of a future-ready office world. This requires the creation of multifunctional workspaces with the technical wherewithal for multiple networking of employees. These include working islands, which can be rapidly and easily divided up, and are suited to the bespoke requirements of interdisciplinary project teams. Intelligent wall partitioning systems and mobile furniture enable the creation of flexible working areas – depending on the needs of the respective user groups.
Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, Arbeitsmarktprognose 2030
FACTS 10/2016 – Was die Zukunft bringt
Klaffke M. (2016), Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft, Gestaltungsansätze und Good-Practice-Beispiele