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While it is impossible to predict the world of work of the future, it is possible to have an idea of the direction of travel. High-quality technologies, cloud computing, and intelligent furnishings are already part of our day-to-day work, resulting in changes that cannot be stopped. Quite the opposite: Driven by technological change, flexibility in employment is proceeding at an ever increasing pace. Thanks to globalization, individual states are becoming increasingly interlinked, companies will have to respond more quickly and impress with innovations to remain competitive in the future. 

Demographic development requires a new approach

Demographic change is a particularly large influencing factor in the development of the employment market. The working population keeps getting older, but there are few young employees to replace them because of the low birth rate. As the younger generations have different requirements for their working environment and because there is a lack of specialists, companies need to take a new approach. For Generations Y and Z, salary and promotion opportunities are not the only important factors, they also want flexibility. Working independently from any location, reconciling family life and work, and a healthy work-life balance are important factors for them in selecting an employer.

Working from any location thanks to digitization

The conditions needed for working flexibly at different times and locations are more straightforward than ever before, because of technological change. The future of work involves relentless technical development. Companies face the challenge of adjusting to suit the new conditions resulting from digital change. Digitization brings new ways to remain in constant contact with work colleagues, business partners, and superiors even outside the classic office. Information and communication technologies are changing the world of work: Powerful Internet, mobile devices, and smart devices make it possible to work from any location and at any time. It can be assumed that even more drastic changes will occur in our work and private lives. 

Will all work in the future be mobile?

It is true that the world of work is changing at a rapid speed — above all because of technical developments — but employees appreciate the opportunity to have “real” interactions. In an increasingly virtual world, people want to interact socially. The office as a workplace will therefore not cease to exist, but will change. New workplace models will be created that require functional and flexible furniture solutions with intelligent technical integration.

Smart working — say hello to a new world of work!

Smart working is all about flexible, mobile, free, and independent knowledge work. What is the result? According to the latest work market forecasts, there will be fewer permanent positions in the future, and instead more project work and freelancing. The future of work will include agile “work swarms”: working groups with diverse members and external participants such as freelancers. These groups are increasingly replacing traditional teams, who generally work together in one location over a longer period. Work swarms are categorized by the working group being formed rapidly for specific activities, tasks being performed autonomously, and the group subsequently being dissolved. This will cause structural disruption in organization, boundaries within the company will become increasingly blurred. 

Creating the perfect conditions for new work

Companies, architects, and planners already have to address the forecast changes of a modern, technology-driven world of work and respond accordingly. Flexible spatial concepts that fulfill a wide range of requirements are part of a future-proof office world. Multi-functional workplaces need to be created with the technical facilities to interlink multiple employees. This includes work islands, that can be split up quickly and easily and be adjusted to suit the individual needs of interdisciplinary project teams. With intelligent partition systems and mobile furniture, work areas can be put together flexibly, to suit the needs to particular user groups. 

Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, Arbeitsmarktprognose 2030  [Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Work market forecast 2030]
FACTS 10/2016 – Was die Zukunft bringt [What the future brings]
Klaffke M. (2016), Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft, Gestaltungsansätze und Good-Practice-Beispiele [Workplace of the future, design approaches and good practice examples]