Companies interested in leasing, subleasing, purchasing or selling office space in the Bay Area

The Future Office: 2022 & BEYOND

Office of the future

Analytics will define precisely how, when, why, and where office space is used to maximize employee happiness, retention, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity.

There will be shared cutting-edge memorable communal spaces. Employees will have choices of open, private, and collaborative spaces.

Technology will impact the office of the future in ways we cannot even envision today.

With increasingly more sophisticated sensors, and computer analyzing programming light years ahead of just a few years ago, there are, probably, consultants who study a workplace and quantitatively ascertain what combination of layout design, wellness amenities, lighting, sunlight, temperature, type of desks, variety of work environments, and all the other factors that go into an office to maximize employee satisfaction as well as work productivity. In the past we had metrics of square feet per employee back in the old days – now a totally new form of metrics might emerge that includes employee retention, absenteeism, happiness, job performance, etc. to tie everything controllable in an office environment in terms the CFO can understand and support.

Big brother is really watching you. New stand-up desks fitted with 120 sensors learn your habit and gently remind you when you need to work differently. If you sit for too long, your chair vibrates, telling you it’s time to stand, and your desk adjusts to your appropriate height. Your key strokes and mouse clicks are monitored, and might lead to suggestions on better ergonomics. Analytics tells your boss whether you even need your own desk versus hot desking for the hours, or days a week you need one. Gensler has 1,000 sensors in its own Manhattan office space.

Big brother can be everywhere, except in the restrooms. Office walls, ID badges, lighting fixtures, HVAC Systems, your chair, desk, and mouse. – Yes, it can be scary! Jan Johnson, of Allsteel, says we need to have a renewed emphasis on understanding work processes and how they support the business of the business.


A 2015 study conducted by non-profit human resources association WorldatWork shows 96% of organizations’ support employee wellbeing programs, and nearly three-quarters plan to increase wellbeing offerings or activities in the next two years.

The WELL Building Standard sets performance requirements in seven categories – air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

CBRE is huge in this WELL Initiative, and their Los Angeles headquarters achieved WELL certification in 2013. CBRE is now pursuing 100 more buildings to get certified. 90% of its employees said they would not go back to a traditional way of working.

A study done by Gallup, named “State of the American Workplace”, shows that companies that successfully connect and engage employees yield almost 150 percent higher earnings per share compared to peers.

Kylie Roth, Senior Director of Genie’s Workplace Research at Knoll Furniture thinks Gen Z may want or need more privacy / focus spaces than Gen Y, there will be much more employee participation in the office design now than in the past, not just the generation stages like Gen X, but life stages as well. It might be okay to pay $6,000 for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco with three of your best friends, not own a car but take Uber, and go out to eat all the time, but then you fall in love, get married and need to decide where you want to raise your future kids … Suburbs maybe?

Brian Pillar, Director of Design with Pivot Interiors, the Smart Office is totally interconnected, security, HVAC, lighting, environmental controls, usage of spaces, seamless and behind the scenes. Living walls, Tana Hall with Gensler referred to a plant wall Shanghai study that showed productivity went way up.

Corporations use design to express the company’s culture. Brian says, Facebook fosters edginess while Apple’s design might be more reserved.

Some industries and companies have no offices at all, you can book a 3 to 4 person collaboration room, larger rooms, office pods – Some tech workers sometimes want to meet where they are totally unconnected.

Kate North, Managing Director of Workplace Innovation Advisory Services for Colliers, based in Chicago, says, “How can the workplace help employees work at their best? Can the workplace support multiple generations, reduce distractions, foster fortuitous encounters, and create the right balance between concentration and collaboration?”

“Over the next five years, it is hard to imagine that the display, processing, interface and communication capabilities of these wearable devices won’t match and likely surpass what we can do with today’s tablets and phones.”

In five years there will be a significant portion of our workforce that grew up always connected, Goolgleized, order anything and everything on Amazon, Alexa orders food and answers any imaginable question, and everything is NOW.

In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, employees will have unprecedented power. Management hierarchy will be less important, workers will want more say in how things are run, they want to solve problems autonomously, and if there aren’t learning opportunities for them, they will leave for greener pastures.

More than half of the Millennials in a recent survey prefer to work with an open-floor plan versus cubicles or private offices while less than half of Gen X-ers and Boomers wanted an open floor plan.

The younger generations of workers want to do their job where they want to be, not where they are told they have to be.

Collaboration – There are furniture designs to foster this, like a hanging light fixture that makes you feel like you and your teammates are sitting around a campfire, or tables with umbrellas that bring people together, even if indoors without the sun. The Slim Talk doubles as a bench and has built-in power outlets.

Technology is changing at an ever-rapid pace, and five years is a long long time period – so much is happening – Wireless connectivity, high speed Wi-Fi is everywhere, work anywhere, anytime, employees will work more hours as a result, but may do personal shopping at work and client video conferencing from home.

The OfficeTeam surveyed the country’s 1,000 largest companies, and 87% of executives believe telecommuting will increase in the next 10-15 years, while 42% of the executives think employees will be working more hours.

IBM and Yahoo both mandated telecommuters come back to the mother ship, and Google, Facebook and most of the other tech giants are building huge campuses where employees can collaborate and synergize, the opposite of someone working from their home, so who knows what the future of telecommuting is.


Research conducted by Business in the Community benchmarked 100 companies where focus by management was on employee wellness and engagement, and these firms outperformed the rest by an average of 10%.

A longer-term study stretching from 2000 to 2014 found companies nurturing a culture of health outperformed the rest of the Standard & Poor by a factor of 3 to 1. Businesses with highly satisfied, engaged employees are rewarded with 37% lower absenteeism, 21% higher productivity, and 10% higher customer satisfaction than those without.

Saint-Gobain’s new North American headquarters has a fitness center, 1.3 miles of walking trails for its 800 staff, and more than 100 collaborative workspaces, including some outdoors, and 92% of offices have outdoor views. Call center staff doubled their productivity after moving in, with a 97% increase in sales-generated leads and 101% increase in leads per call.

Ewa Baska, Managing Director of Buildout, shared some of her thoughts with me. As we become more integrated with technology, we may crave human interaction that technology has removed. In the context of the office, we will be optimizing experiences for in-person connections and physical office facilities and meeting places have an important role in this.

Office pods for focused work, virtual reality meetings with colleagues around the world, outdoor spaces for unwinding, offices overall will be more enjoyable and provide a better experience for those who work there.

The Internet of Things will revolutionize the world, marrying the physical world to the virtual world. Commercial real estate will have dramatic changes and until the robots entirely take over, we, humans, will continue to adapt.


According to Jitesh Patel, chief executive of work place consultants and office design, “Two thirds of workers say they work more productively in the office than anywhere else, and half say that working away from the office makes them feel stressed and disconnected from colleagues.”

So, businesses need to design their spaces to get workers back in the office. “Businesses are re-thinking the open-plan aspect of offices to foster this new company-wide collaboration and workers’ desire for more personalized areas. We anticipate more “hybrid workspaces” with movable furniture, couches, coffee bars and private booths to add variety and individuality to featureless open plan offices.

Take the slide to downstairs, play foosball, go to the roof for the bocce ball, Ping-Pong, video games in the multi-media room, and free beer on Friday afternoons. Nap in a sleep pod, brainstorm in an electronic-free thought room, and let the oxygen generated by the living plant walls bring health into your life. In-house yoga, bike racks, stand-up desks and creative collaboration nooks-choices, flexibility and something for everyone. Relax rooms with massage chairs and aromatherapy, silent reading room libraries with secret doors leading to private sleeping areas.

Employees will want to come to work, they won’t get sick of their offices, nor will they get sick at their offices. Lower absenteeism, higher employee retention and an overall happier and more productive workforce. A new study published by Gensler revealed that highly successful companies have four things in common: collaboration, learning, social focus, and unscripted socialization.

I know Jennifer and I covered quite a bit of material, but hey, this is one ginormous topic to work with! We started with the Intel video showing how the Internet of Things is connecting us as individuals to our companies, our workplaces, and potentially making our lives easier overall. This is the first time we have five generations all working together in the same office environment, but each age group may have very different expectations and preferences in how and where they work. Technology in the office building, security with facial and biometric recognition, wearables to boost productivity, understanding the work processes and how office design can support and enhance doing business.

One key word — flexibility, giving employees a choice throughout their workday, from desk to office pod, to collaboration rooms, to virtual reality meetings with colleagues from all over the world.

New analytics will help track how we utilize our office environment and what different components need to be of lighting, furniture design and layout, noise, interior live walls, air quality, access to amenities like rooftop bocce ball or a video game room, or nap pod, or being able to bring your dog to work, having food catered in for lunch and dinner, having easy access to public transit, or free car-charging stations, or a fitness center, a yoga instructor on site with wellness being a critical part of the work environment.

Our top management will have analytic tools never before available to optimize employee satisfaction, happiness, maximize retention, boost recruiting, minimize absenteeism, and optimize both our experience as an employee and our contribution to our company’s bottom line.

And the better we get this done, the longer we can hold off the office workers, generations from now – The Robots!

Referred resources:

  • Gensler Work
  • Teknon Workplace of the future
  • How Office Designers Boost Productivity
  • Your Office in 2020: A Glimpse into the Future
  • 5 Shifts Companies Must Make in the Next 5 Years
  • The Future of Work – A Journey to 2022
  • Gensler: The Future of Work
  • Say Goodbye to Your Desk
  • Coexisting
  • Wellness – Wellbeing
  • Millennials’ Impact on Office Within the Next 8 Years
  • Advanced Analytics to Help Tenants Determine Space Needs
  • How the Office of the Future Will Lure Staff Back From Home
  • 3 Office Design Trends Introverts Will Love
  • How Virtual Reality is Changing Real Estate
  • Office Cars of the Future
  • 5 Designers Predict Future of Office Spaces
  • Contract Furniture Tectonic SHIFT / Huff Post
  • The new landscape of work – Herman Miller
  • Work Design magazine
  • The workplace Reimagined: The impact of Millennials on the office design – Spaces
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