As we’ve noted before, the modern office is evolving quickly. The demands of a changing technological landscape are leading to necessary re-considerations of today’s work spaces. The image of massive grids of cubicles with lone workers pounding away at typewriters is an anachronism. This stems from the fact that work as we know it is being redefined. What is behind this?
These changes got their start when neo-liberalism came to fruition in the beginning of the 1980s. Administration became a primary source of employment after lower-level manufacturing jobs were shipped to foreign nations. As a result of these developments, offices embraced the cubicle. Office configurations saw little to no change even as the very nature of work had morphed into something new. A more fundamental change would be necessary to force modern workplaces to reconsider the standard set up.
It’s certainly not a new concept, but the Internet changed the world and its influence on the subject at hand is essential. The Internet age has changed the way we interact with computers, but more basically it has changed the way we interact with fellow members of society. It follows logically that this has led to changes in the way workers interact in their day-to-day operations. To put it simply, the level to which employees are dependent on one another has greatly increased. In turn, modern office furniture is finding new ways to encapsulate this new level of inter-dependency.
According to CNN, one in five American workers works from home. Economists’ project that this number will increase by more than 50% in the next half decade. Surely the fact that so many people are working outside of traditional offices means that the concept of an “office” is an anachronism, right? I wouldn’t bet on it just yet. Technology has certainly alleviated much of the tediousness of low-level workplace interactions, but it still cannot compete realistically with face-to-face interaction.
That’s not to say that all sectors have been so effected by the age of the Internet. Some companies cannot undertake greater collaboration, just by the nature of their work. NOC furniture is often involved with these types of industries (e.g. defense, intelligence). Companies and organizations that keep this sector afloat are often companies that cannot abide greater employee collaboration, and have therefore remained relatively unchanged by this new collaboration-heavy environment.
Some have stated that “the office is no longer defined by a particular space or furniture.” As we’ve seen above, this assertion is not ubiquitous.