Ten shifts for 2020: The future of work (Part 1)

20 February 2020

We’re always seeking out the most up-to-date research and insight to support our workplace design offering, ensuring we are always providing clients with solutions that are fit-for-purpose and enhance an organisation and its’ people at the most strategic level.

This week, we have discovered the latest research published by the WORKTECH Academy on what the world of work will look like in 2020. Below we reveal the key findings of this report and discuss in more detail the key shifts you can expect to see this year in how we work.


Expect to hear more of the phrase ‘workplace experience’ this year as organisations seek to uncover what makes a great place to work.

More space and more amenities to enhance comfort and relaxation seem to be key to creating a positive work environment. Some workplaces considered to be great places to work are now starting to create a healthier workspace, influencing diet, exercise and providing mental health support to attract and retain top talent.

Organisations are placing more importance than ever before on creating thriving social communities where people can socialise away from their desks and screens and develop meaningful relationships with their peers and colleagues.

Progressive organisations are now looking at what they can provide their staff beyond simply their salary at the end of the month and are investing in developing a purpose-driven mindset to drive employee engagement and giving staff ‘special’ reasons to come to work; be that social, environmental or simply an opportunity to be recognised for their skills. Empowering staff to have a voice and offer feedback on what they consider to be important to their experience as an employee is a great way to tailor your approach to creating a great place to work but also foster an organisational culture that encourages collaboration.

The war for talent is fiercest within the technology sector who consequently are having to act fast to secure the best staff by making workplace experience a strategic priority.

Mental Health

The UK’s appointment of a Minister for Loneliness hints at the underlying and systemic problem of mental health which the business community seem woefully unequipped to deal with.

Architect Christopher Alexander famously once said that “a person is so far formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings’ and suggests that as a community of workplace designers we have a role to play in addressing this increasingly prevalent issue. The report highlights a number of considerations important to designing space:

  • Details and scale which triggers the imagination
  • Tactile sensations to stimulate our visual cortex and auditory cortex.
  • Avoiding sharp angles that stimulate discomfort and fear
  • Architectural variation
  • Volume – research has found that creative/abstract thinking is more effect in rooms with higher ceilings.


2020 will see design to play an increasingly important role in integrating leadership iniatives to enhance workplace productivity.

Too often the concepts of leadership and workplace design are dealt with in isolation despite the increasing number of client’s seeking to leverage their workplace design to drive tangible productivity benefits across their organisations’.

To address this, it is important to consider leadership style and strategy at the briefing phase of an workplace design project to ensure the finished scheme becomes a canvas for leaders to deliver their strategy effectively and get the best from their teams.


Where is your workplace? Where do you consider your place of work to be in 2020? Many under-35s consider their neighbourhood and wider surroundings as their workspace as the rise of agile and flexible working practices break down the conventional office boundaries.

Tactical urbanism involves unlocking the potential of public spaces; providing opportunities for wider social connections whilst simultaneously alleviating the pressure on office building amenities. 2020 could see urbanism leveraged by organisations as a way of managing growth and change and offering flexibility which the next generation workforce as coming to expect.


Many considered 2019 to be the death of ‘open plan’, but could it see a comeback in 2020?

Academia largely considers open plan to be ineffective, while designers believe that it is simply a misunderstood design philosophy that needs to be repurposed and redefined in an era of agile working, hot-desking and ‘always-on’ connectivity.

As what people need from their workspace continues to change and evolve, it is important to recognise ‘open plan’ is solution, not necessarily the solution and to provide a solution that truly meets the needs of the organisation and it’s people, designers need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the organisational culture, leadership strategy and the fundamental requirements of its workforce. 

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we discuss the other key trends identified in the WORKTECH Academy report

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