The Future of Work: How Offices Are Changing for the Better

A flexible, dynamic work space greatly improves collaboration and productivity

April 19, 2017

Jennifer Mattson


Sponsored by WeWork Seattle

Work as we know it is changing fastand in ways most people cant even imagine. Its not just that jobs are changing; its also how we work, where we work, and how employers are adapting to these new rules.

The future of work is all about employee experience, says Jacob Morgan, the best-selling author of The Future of Work. An authority on how the workplace is evolving, Morgan says employers need to change their approach if they want to attract and retain key talent.

It comes down to three things: giving employees physical workspaces they want, having up-to-date technology (the tools they need), and a culture they can celebrate, says Morgan. His latest book on the topic, The Employee Experience Advantage, was released in March.

The human connection

A dynamic work environment shapes the whole employee experience. Morgan says the design of a space can greatly influence collaboration and productivity.

Its about having some open, some closed, some cafe-like environments, some isolationIts about giving employees a choice, he says. You cant have a house with just a kitchen, and you cant have a work environment where we tell employees to do everything in one room.

Founders at forward-thinking companies agree. At Austin-based Loom, a work-for-equity platform that connects entrepreneurs with developers, founder Chase White gives employees a choice of workspaces.

We have a small warehouse space on the east side of Austin for private meetings, but a lot of the times it makes more sense to shake up our atmosphere, says White. WeWork Congress gives us a good opportunity for happenstance run-ins, new inspirationhaving a flexible workspace helps us stay energized.

White, who admits he loves the hustle and bustle of other creative people around him, says offices are changing because companies are changing.

The top-down model is a thing of the past, White says. I think a space like WeWork promotes that, since everyone is working toward the same goal, and because of the way the space is structured, and we are in the same room, it leads to the best ideas and products.

Image credit: Ana Raab

Design for deep thinking

One type of space that every office needs is one that fosters complete concentration. Many WeWork locations feature a quiet room that serves this purpose. The space at global headquarters in Chelsea features walls painted with trees and has hammocks for taking breaks.

Deep work is what moves the needle, say Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. All in all, if you’re excellent at giving things intense concentration, this will act like a super power in the knowledge economy.

Newport says in the future, people will need to be able to do specialized work to set them apart. That requires the ability to focus, which helps people quickly learn new things, enabling them to work faster and at a higher level.

He says there is currently too much emphasis on quickly answering email or spending a good part of the day in meetings.

I like to tell entrepreneurs that kind of shallow work might keep you from going bankrupt, but it’s the deep work that will create the things that allows your company to grow, Newport says.

Build the best place to work

At the forefront of this movement, companies like Microsoft need space for a mobile, flexible workforce.

Although Microsoft has a headquarters in New York City, the companys General Manager Matt Donovan says that having employees work out of WeWork locations enabled more efficient opportunities for a sales team that fanned out over the region.

We started to see how WeWorks footprint across New York could add efficiency for employees meeting with customers and clients, says Donovan.

Microsoft gave 300 members of its sales staff access to all WeWork locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. It cuts down on transit time, giving them time to meet with more customers during the day.

And we wanted to think about what would be the impact of feeding off the different energies of the members in the space: the insights into new businesses, he adds.

A preliminary survey of Microsoft employees in New York found that 84 percent said access to WeWork makes them more productive during the workday.

Image credit: Ana Raab

Doing good by leveraging technology

Greg Donworth, cofounder of Philadelphias WeGardn, says WeWork is perfect for a startup company like his.

WeGardn, which launches in mid-April, delivers local, organic produce in a way that is cost effective and environmentally sustainable. The WeWork Northern Liberties member uses a predictive analytics platform to determine how much food to source.

We have a team that can forecast on a micro and macro level what you are going to order next week, says Donworth. Only sourcing what we know is going to sell eliminates food wasteso we dont have to mark up costs.

Morgan says in the future, well see more businesses and work shaped by cutting-edge technologyespecially those companies that utilize artificial intelligence.

Im 100 percent confident, this is truly where impact can be made, says Donworth.

WeWork Seattles four locations, each a unique experience, offer members the everyday perks that keep you energized and efficient like endless hot coffee, dedicated front desk service, and modern conference rooms. If youre looking for a strong community of professionals from Seattles biggest industries, youll feel right at home at WeWork. Join us at WeWork Seattle where were creating the future of coworking.