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Tomorrow’s World didn’t get it all right

Eurest | General |  06 May 2014


What is the ‘workplace of the future’? How will we recognise it when it’s here? Has it already arrived? We can all see that the work environment has changed in the last couple of decades: remote working, virtual conferencing and ‘hot-desking’ have transformed the way we interact with each other and the spaces around us. Working patterns have adapted to meet the needs of the workforce as well as the industry, but what impact does this new landscape have on the worker?

In 1969, the BBC flagship science programme, Tomorrow’s World, showed us what they thought the workplace of the future might look like. Audiences were given a vision of a quiet office where a lone executive sat behind a Perspex desk. His only interaction was with an automated trolley, wheeling in paperwork to be processed and wheeled back out again. There was no mention of a place to meet colleagues over a coffee or during lunch and the future looked lonely.

Luckily the future has, so far, taken us down a different path. The workplace has recognised the importance of interaction. Open spaces are included in lots of workspaces, designed to encourage collaboration. Obviously, we can still see the funny side: BBC’s recent sitcom W1A uses the pitfalls of “collaboration spaces” and hot-desking as a central theme in poking some light-hearted fun at modern-day bureaucracy. But, used right, they can turn the workplace into a gold mine of ideas and invention.

The results of a survey carried out by Unwork in 2012 suggest that the office will eventually become a central hub where workers carry out prescribed tasks before seeking more flexible spaces to come together in a relaxed environment. Three quarters of CEOs surveyed believe collaboration is vital to innovation and we agree: we believe that it’s important for the worker to be present in the workplace. We want to shape the catering spaces of the future to meet the needs of all types of worker.

Our webcast, ‘workplaces of the future’ took place on 14 May. We were joined by a range of panellists: Nicola Morris, Managing Director of 24; Nicola Millard, Customer Futurologist BT; and Luke Connoley, Associate Director, Unwork. They shared their expert opinions on what they think about the future of workplaces and how organisations can best prepare to get the most out of their office spaces in the years to come.

Watch out for opportunities to watch our webcast replay and to read our supporting white paper, coming your way very soon.

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