Sep 09, 2020

Going Back to Better: Workplace 2030

Going Back to Better

Workplace 2030 is an interactive experience that balances safety and human connection for a better return to the office.

Over the past six months, life has shifted for all of us against the backdrop of a global pandemic. In the process, we’ve experienced one of humanity’s greatest migrations: one to the indoors. It’s caused us to rethink the future of work once we return to the office. What it looks like. What it feels like. Will it be safe? Will we be able to achieve the same sense of connectedness we once felt?

We set out to answer those questions through Workplace 2030, a non-profit initiative to provide educational resources business leaders need to safely bring employees back to the workplace. Our goal was to provide organizations with the right safety and productivity tools for their return to the office –– and to design them in a way that feels human and inviting, so workers will actually want to return.

Together with technology professionals, architects, scientists and policy makers, we’re creating a state-of-the-art Interactive Learning Center, located here in San Francisco. One that puts ideas into action, and a place where we can get a glimpse of a safe, connected future work experience that puts existing technology to work in a way that makes our return to the office better than the one we left.

We've used all of our Post COVID insights and combined them with thought leadership from all around the world to design a complete experience through every square foot of Workplace 2030. Our hope is to help business leaders reopen their offices at the right time. And in the right way, with a hands-on environment that offers them a glimpse into a better future.

Here’s what you can expect. And what you’ll experience.

A complete journey.

The office of the future will undoubtedly vary between company and culture. But the solution for the majority of workers in the post-COVID workplace will resemble a journey, rather than a single destination. One that blends virtual and in-person experiences, touchless interactions, and technology to bring it all together effortlessly. During the design process for the Workplace 2030 environment, we sought to create a day-in-the-life experience through the lens of a typical employee that blends all of these elements.

The right balance of safety, belonging, and connection.

If there’s one thing COVID hasn’t changed, it’s our basic human need for safety, belonging, and connection. If workers return to an office where they don’t feel secure, work won’t get done. But if those security measures restrict the connection and collaboration we’ve all come to miss working from home, a similar fate will befall productivity. Whether it’s in person or virtual, we designed support for social bonding around our pre-wired sense of propinquity – the natural human tendency to build bonds with the people we are closest to.

To create a workplace that combines safety and warmth in an environment that actually feels lived in rather than sterile, we took a design approach that combines multiple senses and sensibilities thoughout the work experience. Visual, olfactory, auditory and tactile senses have been considered along with physical, psychological and emotional expectations. The result: a sense of belonging, connection, individual confidence, engagement and inspiration - all while adhering to the strict health protocols that the new workplace will require.

Materials that are different and better.

As COVID continues to challenge how we approach design, it has forced us to mindfully choose the materials we design with. Workplace 2030 features surfaces that aren’t just durable and sustainable, but easily cleanable as well. One surprising result of our research and experience was to purposely exclude anti-microbial surfaces. Our reasoning was simple: COVID, our most pressing concern, is viral, not microbial. Additionally, anti-microbial surfaces simply are not sustainable.

Support for all the different ways we work.

Instead of socially distanced work pods, we designed Workplace 2030 around the different ways we work, learn and share with a variety of spaces along the journey. Each was considered through the lens of how we apply knowledge, learn new information and skills, and rejuvenate individually or socially. Because ultimately, Workplace 2030 was designed to help get us through the next ten years, not just past a pandemic.

Workplace 2030 will from End of September through Winter of 2021. To schedule an in-person or virtual tour of the interactive experience, click here.