The future of work? It’s hybrid

Spaces adapt, as do working methods, which in the future will be increasingly subdivided between home and office

One year after the lockdown that radically altered our routines and behaviors, as well as the traditional perceptions regarding relationships, work, safety and security, we have decided to address a closely connected theme: that of Smart Working and Working from Home. A concept that prior to last March was more familiar in name than in practice. In Italy it was certainly a way of working that did not match our culture, since we were more likely to experiment with multiple, flexible forms of co-working and open spaces, especially when designing new interiors. This was probably due to a certain character of our country: open, dynamic, interactive. Clearly we have had to adapt, and in our ability to adjust we have exploited the positive aspects of this new way of working, implying new spaces and new tools: greater productivity, savings in economic terms, savings on commuting and travel, flexible timing and management.

Paolo Bleve, editor-in-chief
Paolo Bleve, editor-in-chief

The domestic setting has welcomed this new dimension, blending with it, and furnishings have had to expand their functions and their identities. Companies in this sector have rapidly responded to these new needs, offering a range of versatile proposals to guarantee proper ergonomic design even in a domestic environment (for more on this, read the survey herein).

The theme has also been addressed by ColorWorks (whose research will be narrated in the upcoming Wonder Book), discovering that new working models have not only subverted traditional approaches, but also contributed to create an unprecedented suburban economy, with the relocation of offices and commercial activities.

So are offices destined to be resized or even to vanish altogether? Absolutely not. What we can realistically expect is a hybrid model based on alternation of home and office, taking the best of both worlds; a model approved by Google, calling it the ‘new normal’ and preparing for it – not by chance – with an investment of 7 billion dollars in offices and data centers in 19 states. This is because the value of space for teamwork, typical of offices, cannot be erased. The challenge for architects and designers, then, is to create spaces that can accommodate and make best use of this ‘resized’ presence, coming to terms with new necessities and changes that have emerged over the last year (and will clearly not vanish over the short term). We can look to the future by starting from this flexibility and this ‘new normal.’