07 mei 2020   217   4 min

The future office part 1: Self-managing, flexible and tailor-made

Our way of working is changing faster than ever before. Due to corona, many people are currently working from home. Despite these uncertain times, one thing is certain: in the near future, we will be less at the office. So what do we need to be able to collaborate and work together successfully? How will colleagues continue to inspire each other and when will we be at the office? In two newsroom articles, we take a deep dive in the trends for future offices. This newsroom article is the first part of this deep dive. We interviewed Bas Hoorn from Timension, a training agency for the development of efficient learning and working methods.


When Bas talks about the office of the future, he has three perspectives: The first one is focused on the individual - what does he need to work more efficiently? "That's mainly about the process. It needs to be designed so that someone can achieve results quickly." The second one is focused on the group. "All individuals in an organisation create a collective brain, a group with an overlap of knowledge. To transfer that knowledge to each other, you have to come together. That’s mainly physical but will become more and more virtual." Bas' third perspective for the office of the future is the "far-reaching interwovenness of working and learning". "I'm talking about unconscious and informal learning. Years ago, we still assumed that we obtained 70% of our knowledge in this way, now research shows that this percentage has risen to 90%". Organisations that want to be successful will have to facilitate knowledge sharing more and more, says Bas. "For complex issues, you will still meet physically, but for other learning goals e-learning or micro-training via the smartphone are excellent. For example an app that teaches Business English or coding. It is important that you set compact learning goals.”

Visual communication for complex problems

Important trends that Bas sees with regard to the office spaces are flexibility in workplaces (work anywhere) and the formation of "opportunity coalitions to solve challenges". These coalitions need spaces that stimulate collaboration. "So fast internet and BYOD, but also interactive screens and flipcharts. Because creativity and visual communication are increasingly important for solving complex problems. Whether it's mind mapping or design thinking; images help enormously to clarify complex processes. For colleagues, but also for clients and stakeholders".

These kind of rooms are also called huddle rooms. At the same time, offices should also have concentration rooms in the future, something that is completely lacking in open-plan offices. Bas: "Office work is often cognitively complex. It usually requires a lot of concentration. That requires a clean, empty and quiet workspace. I am convinced that this greatly increases people's output".

‘Visual communication helps us in solving complex problems'



Open-plan offices

Bas believes that the popular open-plan offices will soon be obsolete in their current form. This is also due to the changing relationship between managers and employees. The former are increasingly setting tasks and goals, while employees and teams are becoming more self-managing. "As a result, physical meetings (at the office) will have a different purpose. They are no longer managed, but much more focused on the content".

Many open-plan offices will make place for "physical hubs", says Bas. "Government services and ministries are increasingly opting for hubs that are easily accessible and that facilitate flexible working, regardless of the department. At the same time, renting a temporary workplace, meeting room or training location is on the rise, even from just a few hours."

Share this article