2024 Trends That Are Revolutionizing the Modern Workplace

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Chair of the Month

Tomi Nokelainen
Tomi Nokelainen
Dr Tomi Nokelainen heads Framery's early-stage research and innovation unit, Framery Labs, which also manages Framery's intellectual property rights. He also serves as an adjunct professor of innovation and strategy at Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics. Before joining Framery, he worked as a patent attorney at Berggren, a leading IPR law firm in Finland. He also has had a lengthy career in academia with strategic and technology management.

Framery’s Dr Tomi Nokelainen predicts that the modern workplace will consist of prioritizing essentials, confronting distractions, and embracing flexibility.

Office design is on path towards a transformation. With evolving needs of modern work, and shifting attitudes towards the Return to Office trend, offices will continue to change and adapt to the needs of the worker.

Here’s a glimpse into the future of work and the dynamics that will shape the ways offices work in the coming year.

The office needs to provide the core basics for modern work

Essentials are central to modern office work.

Employees demand well-thought-out spaces that cater to concentrated work. These are not mere amenities –  they are essential tools that enable productivity and well-being. Fail these and you’ll end up having a workspace that doesn’t support work.

Office design will shift emphasis towards fundamentals that facilitate effective work. The idea of a supportive office will shift towards the core needs of the workers. And investing in the basic elements has the most impact.

It’s about creating spaces that echo the comfort and functionality of their home offices. Spaces that employees actually want to return to. It’s about getting the basics right before delving into the decorative. 

Offices will have a distraction epidemic

Distractions will become more burdensome to workers than ever.

Most organizations state that the health and wellness of their employees is their top priority. But what tangible measures are being taken to combat the onslaught of distractions that compromise well-being?

Offices will no longer leave it to the employees to solve their privacy problems. Infrastructure will shift to better accommodate workers. To affect change, offices must shift the focus from the individual to the infrastructures within which they operate. This includes the physical structures of the workspace. 

The office of the future must be an ally in the war against distractions, not a battleground. The goal is to create spaces that support concentration rather than disrupt it. This is especially important for neurodivergent individuals who may face more challenges with attention management. 

RTO mandates will become a thing of the past

Return to Office mandates don’t favor employees.

The preference for remote working tells a revealing story about the current state of office spaces. 

There are many return to office (RTO) mandates seen in the media, as some companies are forcing their employees to work a certain number of days in the corporate office. The RTO mandate is a signal of disregard for an employee’s sense of autonomy and appreciation.  

The design of the office space and the experiences it provides that should inspire attendance, not the compulsion of policy. If the office design doesn’t naturally attract employees, then even the strictest mandate is not going to do the trick. 

To draw people in, offices need to provide private spaces where people can join virtual meetings, take phone calls, and work together in-person without bothering those around them. And most offices don’t have the capacity for that just yet.

Office design will include more flexibility

Flexibility will become a non-negotiable right.

Organizations need to evaluate what the purpose of their office is, and how the design is delivering this purpose. Flexible arrangements promote productivity. If basic working needs are not being met for the people, then those people will continue to be pushed towards remote working. 

To survive, offices need to become destination offices, or office magnets. Places that employees are drawn to not out of obligation, but out of a genuine desire to work within the four walls and meet their colleagues. A destination that is worth the commute and the convenience of the home office.

This means that offices need versatile work areas that can accommodate all types of work. They require spaces that are able to adapt to the needs of in-person work – as well as sessions with remote colleagues or clients. And they must address the need for both privacy and social connection. 

Focus spaces will be the number one office design trend

Offices will begin providing more spaces for focused work.

There is a growing necessity for spaces designed for focused work. As tasks become increasingly complex, the need for environments that cater to high concentration and minimization of distractions becomes evident. 

The ability to concentrate is essential to performance and distractions are innately disruptive to brain function. So it is a must that office design includes areas that mitigate these distractions. 

The reluctance to commute to the office might be explained by the office’s poor ability to support focused activities.

Spaces where distractions are minimized and people get work done are a key factor for the office –  not just a nice bonus. According to Leesman research, a workspace that does not support focused work, is an “obstructor” workspace. If a workspace doesn’t support focused working, it won’t matter how brilliant the other spaces are.

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