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Future watch: Human meetings are becoming more important

Working in the office is not a dying trend, according to Ulf Boman at Kairos Future. On the contrary—in the idea-based economy of tomorrow, we’ll need more human meetings in order to create and produce.

The digital revolution has allowed many of us to work wherever we choose: at home, in cafés, on holiday or at the top of a mountain. This has led to the idea that we’ll no longer be needing offices to do our work in the future—but nothing could be further from the truth according to Ulf Boman, partner and Future Strategist at Kairos Future. 
“The workplaces of the future will be designed so that people actively choose to go to the office to work,” Ulf Boman explains.

His vision of tomorrow’s workplace includes attractive activity-based offices with no personal desks and a range of different spaces: creative spaces, quite spaces and phone rooms. We’ll be working alongside robots, and when we need to meet with our colleague in Gothenburg, he or she will join us as a hologram. Management and leaders act as coaches, trust their employees and allow them to lead their own work.

In collaboration with digitalization consultant Palorial, Kairos Future recently released the report ‘Tomorrow’s workplace’. The report is based on focus groups and a survey including some thousand Swedish office workers. It concludes that great offices act as hubs where people choose to come together and spend time, as they provide a range of environments and excellent digital tools and systems that facilitate their work.
“We need offices because we need to meet. In today’s world, creativity is key to a company’s success. Thoughts and ideas don’t flourish when you’re on your own, they’re born out of meetings with other people. 

According to Ulf Boman, this means that offices will ultimately become a key competitive advantage in attracting the most talented staff, generating new ideas and developing products and services.
“This also means that it’s important that the office space reflects the company’s values. Many companies now adapt old furniture to suit new office spaces. It’s a statement—it shows the company is  committed to reducing the utilization of the planet’s resources.

New digital working methods and tools, and adapting them to the employees’ needs will also play a critical role in the future.
“Although many digital tools, such as Outlook, are standardized, they often have hidden functionality that can be used and adapted to suit the needs of the individual,” commented Ulf Boman

In the office of tomorrow, unnecessary and boring meetings will be banned. The report shows that many people feel that meetings steal time, even when held by video link. This means that staff often use group chats to share information and complete administrative tasks, while human meetings take place to create, learn or build communities.