What does an office look like in the era of remote work?

A recent global study from Microsoft found that over 70% of workers want the option of flexible, remote work to continue after lockdown restrictions ease. To accommodate and attract an increasingly dispersed workforce, the office of the future is being radically reimagined.

Office playgrounds

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The screening room (top), a guest room (left) and the pottery studio (right) at Birch. Photography by Adam Firman
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The boundaries between work and play are disappearing as new offerings like the one from Birch, a members club retreat for relaxing and working, cater to changing habits. Opened in 2020 in the London suburbs, the first Birch location includes hotel rooms, a cinema and a pottery studio alongside a co-working space. An extensive events program adds to the list of things to do onsite, bringing new meaning to the word ‘workcation.’

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Jeuneville
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Jeuneville, scheduled for completion in 2025 in Paris, is a modular environment for live, work and play by French design firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel. With a focus on sustainability, the mixed-use spaces will provide living options for 1,500 residents and offices for over 6,000 people and shops, outdoor areas, and even a school.

Work zones

Companies are moving away from location-based work, and are instead using time zones to mark virtual office boundaries for remote workers. In February 2021, Spotify announced their new Work From Anywhere program, which stipulates that employees can work from any geographical location within a specified time zone. LogMeIn, a provider of cloud-based services that facilitate remote working, is also adopting time zone work policies. One benefit of time zone working, LogMeIn chief information officer Ian Pitt explains, is that it builds a remote sense of community and bolsters corporate culture for distributed teams.

Mobile workspaces

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Nissan's mobile office pod

Mobility brands are looking to enhance the capabilities of a nomadic workforce. In January 2021, Nissan Japan released the NV350, a new caravan concept that includes a home office pod. Through the clever use of a smartphone-controlled extendable desk space, the caravan allows people to work from anywhere they can park.

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The Airstream Flying Cloud 30FB Office

For those who want a roomier experience, the Airstream Flying Cloud 30FB Office, released in February 2021, is a luxury mobile trailer that includes a corner office for working on the go.

As newly blended work patterns facilitate the integration of work and leisure time, the very definition of an office is changing–giving rise to the next era of office “spaces” that are mobile, community-centric and offer a place to play as well as work.