If you’ve been living on Mars for the past two years, then you might be one of the very few in the universe to have not heard the term ‘the world of work has changed for good’. If you live on Earth (I know most of us do) and by some miracle you haven’t heard that term, then a quick glimpse of Orgatec might have left you somewhat dazed and confused. It is a workplace and office exhibition after all. But you wouldn’t have thought it as you walked through the show.
Held in Cologne, Germany from 22nd – 26th October, the event appeared to be more of a home furnishing exhibition than that of a workplace. The result of two years of hybrid working clearly leaving its mark.
This was evident when I found myself joyously sitting in a ball-pit.
That’s correct. A ball-pit.
Designed to enhance free, creative thinking, the owners were right. I did feel free. I also felt purely happy. I couldn’t help but smile as I let my well-travelled legs take a deserved break under hundreds of yellow plastic balls. I, for one, could certainly see the benefits of holding brainstorms or think-tanks in an environment like that. Because everything else was forgotten.
The event was also very much focussed on bringing the outdoors in. It was hard to escape the sound of birdsong on one particular floor, giving off the sense that you’re walking through and working in a large aviary. It was more than pleasant. It was also enhanced by the number of plants and natural outdoor colours promoted by many of the 600+ exhibitors. You could tell many had considered global factors and how they’re influencing design trends.
Flexible office furniture
In the office of the future, flexibility is key. A growing number of companies are organising furniture solutions to adapt workspaces to evolving changes. For example, certain teams come in on certain days so the office must be nimble to cater for these different needs. This could be seen as bookshelves stealthily turned into desks just in a matter of seconds.
Technology will also play an important role in the future workplace to meet the demand for this flexibility and efficiency. I curiously watched a lady walking powerfully on an elongated treadmill all whilst working on her laptop on the desk attached to it. Sure, I was a little curious to see if she fell (which is what would have happened to me, by the way) but it was another fine example of how technology is already fuelling health and wellbeing in the workplace. She was also flanked by another attendee working on what looked like a dentist chair, raising up and down until she was comfortable. The chair also turned out to be heated and with a built-in massage system. Hey presto.
Blurring the office and the home
As I said at the start, the world of work has changed for good, in both senses of the word. But the backdrop to all of this is that office furnishings and design are already helping organisations in developing a new vision for work itself. Home is where the office is. And it’s pulling their hand in the direction that they need to go. Letting go of the old and embracing the wonderful new.
We attend industry events throughout the year. Read more of our recent event recaps on the sector news section of our blog.