How will workspaces look in 2021?
For years we’ve been musing about the potential future of the workspace. A few years ago, everyone was talking about the “open office” trend and more relaxed, informal environments. As remote and mobile working emerged, things like co-working spaces started to gain popularity, offering access to all the features of a standard office, without the commitment.
Now, we’re in a brand-new world, and the office of the future is once again a blurry question mark. I have a feeling, however, that the ‘anywhere workspace’ could be the next major trend on the horizon.
Recently, I visited my local Land Rover dealership, who is busy refurbishing the dealership with a new look. One thing stood out, a set of workspaces for customers where clients can relax for a couple or a few hours at a time. You can work as you wait, rather than having to grab a courtesy car and rush to the office. It’s more productive for the customer, and easier for the business because there’s less paperwork to worry about. Win-win.
So, is this what the future of the workspace looks like? Will we have random spaces where we can simply pull up a chair and start working whenever we feel like it? In a world where the office doesn’t have to be a specific place, anywhere could become a professional setting.
You could create your office in seconds from your friends’ kitchen table, a car, or café. You could even just set your laptop up on your hotel desk. The point is – it doesn’t really matter where you work from anymore. A worker with an anywhere kit can start connecting to the office and be productive from anywhere. There aren’t any limits beyond the need for a solid internet connection.
Despite this, I do suspect that we’ll see the arrival of some new working methods tomorrow. The landscape is changing, and it will take some time to determine what’s really going to work best. For instance, how do we determine what the anywhere worker actually needs to remain efficient and productive?
In general, you’ll need solid connectivity, a set of cloud-hosted applications, and a device that you can work from. If those three must-haves are the only things on your list, then your options are virtually endless. However, there might be some extra considerations to think about.
For the most part, the tools an anywhere worker needs are simple enough. An internet connection, a laptop, and a set of cloud applications are all it takes. You might need a camera and a microphone, or a set of headphones too – but it depends on the kind of work you’re going to be doing.
Beyond that, however, there are also some intangible elements to consider. For instance, how do businesses ensure that they can trust their employees to stay safe wherever they are? What kind agile working philosophies need to be in place to protect the business and its staff? What kind of culture needs to exist behind the scenes?
With team applications like Microsoft Teams, you can work with files and collaborate in real-time on projects without having to be in the same room. But how do we ensure that everyone is comfortable using those apps safely? Should anywhere workers have devices supplied by the business, or will the future be in BYOD? If the apps are cross-platform that you decide to use, should you have a choice of hardware, depending on what you need to do?
Once you get beyond the basics of an anywhere work environment, the same old concerns start to appear again. How do we ensure that these anywhere spaces are secure? There’s much less security beyond the office firewall and trusted domain. Two-factor authentication (2FA) options are making the browser safer, but you’ll need to ensure that your employees follow best practices.
Keeping files stored on the cloud instead of locally and avoiding installed apps might help to mitigate some classic legacy concerns.
Then there’s user experience to think about too. Most vendors are already getting ahead in this regard. Many believe that user adoption is much less of an issue today, while some argue that full UC apps can complicate things.
Whatever your opinion might be, the anywhere tech we need to work more flexibly is here. There’s no excuse for a company not to offer the workforce more flexibility, and the companies that fall behind the curve risk losing their talent.
The workplace of the future will push the boundaries of what we can consider to be a temporary office space. Funky locations, home office fashion statements, and innovative remote work tech could all be parts of the next big thing for office design.
Our Anywhere Work 2020 Virtual 2 day event is now available on demand.
Our second UC Summit 2021 Annual Conference and Expo starts in January 2021 – register today.