How will we draw ourselves out of our pandemic work-from-home habits? How might we create spontaneous moments in our daily work practice, even if it is not a trip into the office?
As a researcher and planner of workplace environments, The scope of work of yesteryear was always designing the ‘office’ experience. The blind spot was a disregard for anything outside of those 4 walls. But in the coming years we’ll broaden our responsibility to include a more holistic ‘work from anywhere’ autonomy. My new scope might be something like this: Research and recommend the right settings, tools, services and social networks ranging from home, local community to central HQ. It will be designed holistically and encourage use and participation through specific perks, value and purpose. The best companies will strive for work to feel more like a retail or fitness experience, aiming for the equivalent of a workplace Peloton membership.
In the future, your work experience will be like a fitness program. Imagine a fitness app for work. It would both record what you’ve done and where you’ve been over time. It will also make nudges to help you make good choices on where and what to do and who to connect with, when and how. It could map where you have been (at my desk at home, on a sofa at a cafe, in a meeting room at HQ), help you track and set work goals (Xhrs writing, Xhrs coffee catch-ups, Xhrs working sessions with peers), support your community (take these 1 on 1s at your local cafe) , measure progress and coach you towards positive results (you finish written tasks faster at home). It could also track your social network path, helping you understand the value of your strong and weak ties (4 new social ties!).
The future of work is about work ‘enabled’ spaces. Fitness isn’t just at the gym, so why should work only be at the office? Work is so much more than a corporate office and has been for a while. But in a post-pandemic world, organizations will take more ownership over the holistic approach of work ‘enabled’ spaces. Whether companies own the designed experience and performance analytics, or offer a menu of product options (work + retail, work + on-demand, work + memberships, work + partnerships) for employees to budget from, the landscape of where and how we work will continue to evolve as we watch the hard 4 walls of the office dissolve.