This article notes that the generation entering the workforce today is technology-based, networked, mobile and “highly interactive,” with values that make it difficult for them to adjust to a traditional hierarchical business structure.  The author insists, however, that this culture will invade the office and greatly impact office design.  Design constructs like acoustical privacy will give way to the adaptive interaction favored by this generation; office furniture has already begun to adapt:

  • Large work surfaces are no longer needed since the big-box computers have given way to small, mobile laptops.
  • Many offices are empty for long periods as Wi-Fi and VoIP enhance the mobility of the workforce.
  • An increase in the percentage of single adults in the workplace causes many to look to the workplace for “social connections.”  The office takes on a more residential feel as workers spend more and more time there.

The role of office design becomes one of “humanizing technology.”  Workstations will be outfitted to recognize users and will adjust light settings, climate control and chair height for each user.  Readers are assured that a number of furniture companies are working to incorporate biometric and Radio Frequency Identification technology into product offerings.  At this point, muses the author, furniture companies are becoming desirable acquisition targets for tech companies.

Source: Grand Rapids Business Journal; Aug 14, 2006

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