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The equalizer, the incubator, the culture center, and the showroom.
The role of the office will continue to be in flux across the next year as companies and their employees negotiate the best approach to work. In 2022, the office served more so as an occasional destination for most people. Now, companies like Google are requiring their staff to return to in-office work as part of an effort to preserve social capital, or the connections and trust between people that, they believe, allows them to work most effectively.
As company policies, technology, and the built environment are shifting in accordance with our new ways of working, so too are individuals. With a few years of remote work under their belts, people are now mixing and matching the ideal home and work balance that is best for them. Residential properties are following suit by offering more robust workspaces for tenants, fit with the technology and community spaces that the traditional office previously provided. Read more about this here. The office should not try to compete with the evolution of our homes but consider how it can be a partner to them by implementing lessons learned over the past couple of years and reimagining itself as a key part of our social fabric. With the tools that employees need to work available at home, people will need to see a purpose for coming into the office. The first is framing the office as an equalizer. For those who are not required to come in, the office can remain appealing by offering what they cannot get at home. Though leadership and some employees might be able to work in separate offices and libraries that offer the privacy and focus space they need, there are many employees who are stuck working in studio apartments or at home with their kids. The inequities of workspace at home, such as fast internet, ergonomic workstations, and even the ability to form relationships with other people in the company, can be solved with democratic workspaces.