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From the personal workstation to a work community that changes from day to day

Remote work is increasing, the significance of creativity and innovation is growing, and e-commerce is breaking down the structures of traditional retail. How will these trends affect the working environments of the future?

Multispace offices with various spaces for different types of work have been growing in popularity for some time, and they are set to remain a feature of future work environments. According to Sponda’s Regional Manager Joona Reunanen and Property Development Project Manager Aleksi Lounamaa, however, the adaptability of workspace will be taken even further.

Flexible solutions combine the multispace office approach with efficient use of premises.

“Instead of having a fixed division of the office into areas for different types of work, employees will have the opportunity to adapt their workspace as needed. For example, lightweight movable partitions can be used to create a temporary space in an open office for a team meeting. Flexible solutions combine the multispace office approach with efficient use of premises,” Reunanen says.

Advances in information technology have liberated work from the constraints of time and place, but this does not mean that offices will become unnecessary in the future. The concept of the office, however, will become expanded.

“Remote work will be mobile. Instead of commuting to the employer’s premises every day, employees can choose the option that best suits them, such as a office business center. Office business centers can also become new hubs for entrepreneurs, where new contacts and the mutual exchange of knowledge and information create opportunities for creativity and innovation,” Lounamaa explains.

By giving up the idea of the personal workstation, even more traditional offices can support a new kind of productivity: hierarchies are flattened, the exchange of information is increased and room for new ideas is created.

Work and residential space under one roof

Lounamaa and Reunanen both believe that city centres will become increasingly attractive as both working and residential environments. The densification of the urban structure will create pressures to make effective use of space. Could the office of the future serve a dual purpose, perhaps becoming a restaurant or exercise room in the evenings?

“It is unlikely that the flexibility of premises will go quite that far, as different uses place different demands on building services. A more likely direction is the development of complexes with residential units on the upper floors, office space in the middle, and retail space on the lower levels. With different types of premises under one roof, these centres will be active and attractive around the clock. This is something that new shopping centres are already aiming for,” Lounamaa says.

While some are already concerned that the growth in online commerce will hurt traditional retail, Reunanen does not expect shopping centres to go away. Nevertheless, just like offices, their meaning will change.

“Entertainment centres are all about experiences: people come to spend time, meet friends and engage in hobbies. People also have a need for visual and sensory stimuli. The online store may also be combined with physical retail space: shops can turn into showrooms where only a proportion of the products are on display, with customers ordering the desired colour and size by using an online application and scanning a code in the showroom,” Reunanen suggests.

What will happen to working environments in the future?

  • Multispace offices will change: one office can be adapted according to needs—for example, by using movable partitions—and instead of commuting to the employer’s premises every day, employees will choose a virtual office that is appropriate for them.
  • The online store will be combined with physical retail space: shops will turn into showrooms where consumers will examine products hands-on before deciding to buy them. The product is then ordered online and delivered to the home.
  • The working environment is linked to other areas of life: large building complexes in city centres will house residential units, office premises and retail space, which makes them active and lively around the clock.