Future offices will look like… your living room?

The pandemic has altered the future of work — and that includes not only how and where we work, but also what our spaces look like.

Workspace creators One Workplace and office furniture company Steelcase are reimagining the office with WorkBetter Lab, a new “living laboratory” in downtown Seattle.

What does a “living laboratory” look like?

Wondering what that entails? Part laboratory, part creative space, WorkBetter Lab is a showroom that was created to give employers an example of what workplaces could look like in a reality where workers’ expectations have drastically shifted. Think the comforts of home meet the perks of being at the office. So mid-day naps might not be off the table just yet.

“After more than a year of working from home, employee expectations of their work experience have changed. This means employers must create an experience that’s fundamentally different and better than the workplace they left,” said Kathleen Selke, co-founder and vice president of sales at One Workplace brand Porter, in a press release.

“The elements we liked about the office before the crisis have become even more critical, while those that frustrated us will become an even more significant barrier if not addressed.”

From Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon calling remote work an “aberration” to WeWork’s CEO Sandeep Mathrani saying only the “least engaged” want to work from home, not every business leader is enthusiastic about WFH becoming the norm.

But with 65% of professionals surveyed by FlexJobs reporting they want to stay full-time remote post-pandemic, finding solutions that will make a return to the office appealing is the only way organizations eager to bring people back to the office can move forward while retaining and attracting talent.

The post-pandemic office solution

For that reason, the prototype workplace spearheaded by the creators of WorkBetter Lab is all about flexibility: Portable charging stations that allow you to move around while you work, Zoom stations, cozy tent pods where you can snuggle with your laptop while powering through deliverables, and movement-tracking cameras for the ultimate virtual group meeting experience.

Fostering collaboration and connection is equally important when it comes to what employees miss the most about being at the office, so the lab includes lots of areas that are conducive to teamwork, such as living room-like setups complete with sofas and plants. And companies that are toying with the idea of adopting a hybrid model can rejoice in the idea of an app that enables employees to reserve desks before coming into the office.

At the end of the day, the best of both worlds means being able to be productive yet feel comfortable, as well as having the option to either work individually without being disrupted or engage in collaborative work.

While these design choices are innovative, functional and attractive, they’re not necessarily meant to be adopted all at once, but to present organizations with possibilities for their post-Covid plans.

“The inspiration behind the space really came out of a couple of pop-ups that we did down in the Bay Area over the last couple of years,” shared Mark Baker, chief operating officer of One Workplace, with The Business Journals. “The idea is for us to prototype a range of different ideas and make them physical.”