Knowledge

Office of the future: What will workspaces look like in years to come?

6-MINUTE READ - 3rd November 2020

Glass Digital
Glass Digital

Move the slider across the image above to transform the office of today into the office of tomorrow. We’ve also highlighted what kinds of features we expect to become commonplace — hover over the different points to learn more.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many business owners to adapt their workspaces. While certain adjustments will hopefully only be necessary in the short term, this has inspired some employers to consider how they could tweak their offices to accommodate our modern lives and ways of working for the long-run.

So, we got curious and decided to envision what offices might look like in the future, due to both the coronavirus and changes in how we live and work. To determine which modern office features are gaining popularity, and therefore most likely to appear in workspaces of the future, we looked at changes in UK search interest for key search terms and similar variants from August 2019 to August 2020. Here’s what we found.

Company owners will prioritise touch-free technology

Smart speaker

Whether company owners are specifically worried about the spread of coronavirus or the pandemic has made them realise their offices probably aren’t the most hygienic places, it looks like many will be prioritising touch-free technology over the next few years.

There are a number of touch-free features that have risen in popularity where Google searches are concerned. For example, there were approximately 140 searches for “voice activation” in August of 2019, but this had increased by 321% to 590 in August of this year.

With the right setup, voice activation could be used for everything from switching office lights on to opening window blinds.

There are other examples that show more touch-free technology could be making its way into our offices, too. For example, searches for “automated water dispenser” increased by 271% from August of 2019 to August of 2020. Meanwhile, search for “sensor toilet” rose by 80%, and “smart coffee machines” have become 48% more popular according to figures from Google search.

Hygiene will be of the utmost importance

Someone washing their hands

The coronavirus pandemic has opened all our eyes to just how easily illnesses can spread, and this is something office managers will be looking to combat within their offices in the coming years. Whether Covid-19 continues to be a threat or employers just want to do what they can to protect their staff from everything including the common cold, hygiene in the workplace will be of the utmost importance.

This is clear in some of the search terms people have been typing into Google recently. For example, searches for “air purifier” increased by 22% from August 2019 to the same month of this year. Searches for “hygiene station” are up by 320%, and interest in both “antimicrobial material” and “desk shield” has leaped by 3,100% in the same period. It certainly looks like business owners are planning to do what they can to transform their workplaces into germ-free zones.

Time outdoors will become a bigger priority

Two man chatting outdoors

Over the last few months, we’ve all been forced to spend a lot more time at home, which has highlighted the importance of having access to outdoor space. Spending time in nature is great for mental and physical health, and it seems employers might be looking at how they can offer their employees a slice of the great outdoors during the workday. This is reflected in the fact that searches for “outdoor office space” has increased by 520% from August of 2019 to August of 2020.

It’s also likely cycle-to-work schemes will become more popular over the coming months and years, as people try to avoid public transport and get more fresh air on their commute. Searches for “bike to work” are up by 85% when you compare August 2019 to August 2020, so it’s likely we could start seeing more people choosing to cycle to their offices.

Employers will do more to support workers’ mental and physical healthTwo men chatting at a table

As employers start to redesign their workspaces with the future in mind, they’ll hopefully be looking at what they can do to support their staff’s physical and mental health. And, judging by the search terms that have increased in popularity over the last year, it certainly looks like this could be the case.

From August 2019 to the same month of 2020, search for “standing desks” increased by 174%, which suggests workplaces could become more ergonomic in the coming years. Everyone has their own idea of what they want their workspace to look and feel like, so it’s promising to see that employers might be looking at adjusting their equipment to suit their staff.

Search for “SAD lighting” is also up by 24% when you compare August of this year to the same month of last year. Here in the UK, and particularly in the colder months, we’re rarely exposed to enough natural sunlight, but SAD lighting is designed to replicate this indoors, which can help to boost workers’ moods and keep their circadian rhythms regulated so they sleep well at night. All of this can help to keep staff happy, healthy, and productive.

Office technology will get an upgradeElectric vehicle charging station

Technology is advancing all of the time, and it looks like employers are making a real effort to keep their offices up to date by installing new features and gadgets.

Search for “virtual projectors” increased by 300% between August 2019 and the same month of this year. These products can help to upgrade everything from training sessions to client pitches and presentations.

“IOT devices” have also seen searches rise by 23% in the same period. IOT (internet of things) computing devices can wirelessly connect to a network in order to transmit data. This technology can be used for a whole host of applications, from creating a smart office where the lights can be controlled by a smart speaker, to allowing workers’ laptops to be controlled remotely if there’s a technical problem.

Search for “EV charging station” has also risen by 50% from August 2019 to August 2020. Electrical vehicles are starting to become more common on the roads here in the UK, with 10% of car registrations expected to be electric in 2020 (Statista). Because these cars require regular charging, office owners will have to take note. It certainly looks like some are starting to do their research and look for these devices, which is great news for office workers who are considering making the switch, or who have already done so.

This is the perfect time for business owners to assess their workspaces

An empty office

Glass Digital’s Managing Director, Bridie Gallagher, says: “With most office employees working from home at the moment, this is the perfect time for business owners to assess their workspaces and decide what is or isn’t working.

“Of course, right now, safety should be everyone’s priority. The ongoing pandemic has highlighted how quickly and easily illnesses can spread in the workplace if precautions aren’t taken. This doesn’t just apply to Covid-19, though. Responsible employers should do what they can to protect their staff from any illness while they’re at work, whether it’s the common cold or the flu. So, it makes sense that many office managers will be looking to install the likes of touch-free technology, desk shields, and hygiene stations permanently.

“With most offices empty, this is also the ideal time to make any tweaks that could help to boost staff’s mental and physical wellbeing. Not only will this make them much healthier and happier, but it’s bound to improve their productivity when they return to the office, too. Creating ergonomic workspaces, offering SAD lighting, and providing staff with access to outdoor space can all help with this.”

Offices are sure to change a lot of the coming years, as technology progresses and we learn more about creating a happy and healthy space for people to work in. Just looking at the popularity of certain search terms, it certainly looks like the pandemic has kickstarted a lot of changes that will benefit office workers both during and after the pandemic.

Glass Digital is a digital marketing agency that specialises in SEO, paid search, and affiliate marketing. We’re experts in helping our clients to improve their online visibility and boost their sales as a result.