What will the office look like in 10 years? 6 experts predict the future

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Spaces, a digital publication exploring new ways to live and work.

CNN  — 

It happens every few years: a seismic shift in the way we live our lives fuels a change in human behavior so significant, it blows the concept of the office as we know it out of the water.

Modern technology is no exception. Fast becoming the catalyst behind one of the biggest shake-ups the office has ever seen – from design to location and from sustainability to well-being – it is the shift of our generation. And hard though it may be to believe that robotic security guards and app-controlled meeting rooms are just the beginning, there is still a long way to go.

So what might the workplace of the future look like? We asked six office-space experts from around the world to hazard a guess as to where, and how, we will all be working in 10 years from now.

The architect

Lord Norman Foster is one of the best known architects in the world. Now 82, he is the designer behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings including City Hall in London, the Reichstag Dome and, most recently, the $5-billion new Apple Campus 2 in California.

Norman Foster

What will the office look like in 10 years’ time?

Norman Foster: Greener – in every sense. Young people will choose office buildings based on facilities and lifestyle but also on their sustainability credentials. Future generations will be much more demanding and much more questioning in terms of what a potential employer will be doing to tackle climate change. So I think we will see a shift where creating a good quality working environment which is more responsible in terms of sustainability becomes good for business as well as for the environment.

A rendering of Apple Campus 2, designed by Foster & Partners.

What will we see more of – and what will we see less of?

NF: More nature and more sustainable features. And perhaps less real estate developer involvement. The overarching trend is very much the entrepreneurs pushing new ideas for design forward. Apple Park was initiated by Steve Jobs then carried on by (chief design officer) Jony Ive and his team with the support of (chief executive) Tim Cook. As a rule, developers now tend to just follow the market whereas the entrepreneurs lead it.

What do you think will be the single biggest driver of change in the way we work over the next 10 years?

NF: I think the social agenda will be the big driving force. And technology. But also trying to overcome our natural, human fear of change.

How will this affect the built environment of our cities?

NF: Take 3D-printed buildings as an example. I think, if properly harnessed this would offer a lot of opportunities. The downside would be mindless repetition or intrinsically bad design practice. But I would ultimately take a more optimistic view and say it offers greater customization potential and greater room for creativity.

Of course it raises some very big social issues. If you are able, through robots and AI, to do things very quickly and efficiently that are otherwise very labor intensive, then that’s liberating in one sense. But there are issues over the future of the workforce – but historically these sorts of changes have resulted in higher levels of education and a more productive redeployment of labor.

The workspace innovator

Tanya Wood

Tanya Wood is director of Soho Works, the workplace offshoot of hospitality group and members’ club Soho House. She oversees the group’s co-working spaces in London’s Shoreditch as well as potential future expansion plans.

What will the office look like in 10 years’ time?

Tanya Wood: By then we expect the work place to have become even more comfortable – a place where you choose to spend more time without the pressures and formality of the traditional office. With a call for more flexible working hours already, people are spending less physical time at their formal office. They want spaces that actually cater for, and enhance, their working lives. That could be access to everything from gyms or social space, bedrooms or a provision of studios and specialist equipment or facilities to support content creators.

Soho Works, Shoreditch

What do you think will be the single biggest driver of change in the way we work over the next 10 years?

TW: Evolving socioeconomics. By this I mean that more international travel, better gender equality (and sharing of childcare) and new technologies will result in a society that wants and