Huge changes are going on behind closed doors in corporate workplaces around the world.
In London, major tech firms are gearing up for a sweeping return to the office, or at least a part-time return, in the form of reconfigured office layouts, rearranged desks, and fresh technology solutions.
This comes as companies prepare for a hybrid work model, in which the working week is split between remote work and scheduled in-person collaboration.
In King’s Cross, London, Google’s 11-storey ‘groundscraper’ is being adapted. From September 1, staff can expect an indoor basketball court, a rooftop running track, an outdoor workspace overlooking the capital, and team pods – spaces which can be assembled on-the-go with furniture, whiteboards and storage units wheeled in for individual or teamwork.
And of course, it will all be backed by new technology. For example at its Silicon Valley campus, Google has Campfire: a meeting room where in-person attendees sit in a circle, interspersed with large HD displays.
Other pilot schemes include desks which automatically adjust to employee tastes, and personalised temperature settings.
“There isn’t one way people work,” says Grace Lordan, associate professor in behavioural science at London School of Economics. “That’s why open-plan offices have failed: we get distracted too easily. Rather than giving everyone the same workstation, Google is trying out different types of spaces which suit different personality types and modes of thinking – more concentration, more creativity, more collaboration.”