The BBC has an article on what offices will look like in 2032. I wonder whether they will still be using stationery.
It’s a feature from 2012, looking forward 20 years and is written by Ryan Anderson, director of future technology at office furniture specialists Herman Miller.
Anderson sees #future office workers sharing virtual spaces, hologram-style, where they interact with colleagues across the world. They will meet face to face, but not nearly as much and perhaps just to re-establish working relationships over dinner and drinks.
He doesn’t go into detail about how we’ll work on our own or whether stationery will continue to play a part. I think we will, and it will, but in very particular ways.
First, we should acknowledge we’re going to see increasing automation in the workplace, whether that means robot salespeople, drone-led deliveries or spreadsheets that look after themselves.
Humans will be needed in those areas that computers can’t yet handle. This will be in roles where creativity and lateral thinking is required.
I think home offices will be laboratories for ideas and we’ll use stationery and real-world objects to engage those parts of the brain that aren’t turned on by sterile virtual environments. We will need the tactile, the aural and the olfactory to engage all our senses.
Here’s what a 2032 office might have in it:
- Post-it notes
- Sticky index flags
- Mechanical pencils
- Fountain pens
- Plain notepad
- Graph paper
- Office desk – high quality, large, lots of drawers
- Comfortable chair (maybe an #Eames lounger from Herman Miller)
- Desk lamps – low wattage for a subdued ambience
You’ll see that most of this stationery is the kind used for brief notes and drawing. We’ll refine our ideas in the high-tech shared spaces, discussing them with colleagues. But we’ll come up with them on our own, jotting down thoughts and feelings, using pen and paper. Our fingers will run over pages and trace the outline of our plans.
As to office furniture, I think this will lend itself to relaxation; think darker rooms, with soft ambient music or soundscapes, mellow lighting and leather chairs that you can sink into.
Hear the Ambience?
Imagine leaning back into the soft leather office lounger… Feeling relaxed and ready to be creative?
Occasionally we might reach across to the office desk and pull out objects from a drawer – cold metal dice, seashells with a lingering scent, faded photographs. We’ll use these to spark new associations and ideas.
I could be completely wrong of course. Maybe Anderson is right and we’ll spend most of our time working and interacting online. But do we really want a world without paper and pens, without a place to sit and think by ourselves? I don’t.