Office architects need to add anthropology and data science to their skillset

index_Nicola Gillen, Aecom and author of Future Office

Our workplaces have never been more high-tech - and yet in some ways office design is turning full circle, says Aecom’s Nicola Gillen

While people were a key focus of the very first offices, they were metaphorically pushed out during the post-industrial decline to make way for the means of production. Yet today’s redeveloped city quarters, with their vibrant mix of work, leisure and culture, are reminiscent of the 18th-century mixed-use employment hubs that combined industry with worker housing, education and community spaces. We are seeing a clear return to people-centred design.

Employees once had a sharp distinction between their lives in and outside work, but now there is often a blurring between many people’s work and private lives. There is no longer a clear end to the work day, with people working anytime and anywhere. Companies also face greater competition to attract and retain talent, prompting a growing focus on wellbeing and flexibility. The world of work is changing and to stay ahead and play a role in designing offices of the future, designers and architects need to keep a constant watch on new trends and developments.

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