What are offices for, what will they be like in the future and how will the way we work change going forward? These are questions that office workers only dwelt on marginally even in the last couple of years, but which have become the hottest trend topics for the media, CEOs and companies that specialise in workspaces, their design and their furnishing. While over the last 60 years there have been slow and silent revolutions on one hand, which have largely brought about an improvement in manufacturing and the way in which technology has transformed workers’ routines and practices, on the other, offices themselves seem to have made little progress. Aside from the introduction of open spaces, services of various kinds and more ergonomic furnishings, there had been no re-evaluation of the space’s actual raison d'être. The pandemic provided a timely and forceful opportunity for us to start reassessing and rethinking this particular space, reflecting on its identity and the very reasons for its existence.
HOK is at the forefront of this debate. Kay Sargent, co-director of its WorkPlace practice and a member of the Board, explained to us why the concept of “going back to the office” is flawed, that we need to overcome the simplistic concept of “single offices” and reinvent “an ecosystem of spaces” that really will respond to new demands and expectations, be more adaptable, flexible and sustainable, making for enhanced resilience and wellbeing.