Holograms, haircuts and micro-farming – Radical ideas to design future workplace

Norwegian furniture brand HÅG has commissioned a workshop with young Londoners to discover how Generation Z imagines their future work place. Innovative ideas include hanging pods to work in, holograms on walls to change your working environment, interactive tablet desks which turn into beds, virtual reality rooms and communal vegetable allotments to provide ingredients for a healthy lunch.

Holograms, haircuts and micro-farming - school pupils propose radical ideas to design their future workplace

Four key themes emerged during the workshop which revealed how the young people felt about their future workplace – health, the environment, technology, and innovative workspaces. A clear trend was the continued blurring between personal and work life, while many of the pupils stressed the need for relaxation in the workplace. This involved creating an underground ‘holiday room’ which contained a beach and swimming pool, ‘Netflix area’ and holograms which could project a tranquil environment on the walls.

The future office would have a health centre and gym – including a doctor’s surgery where you could book appointments at work. Allotments would be provided where you could make your lunch from fresh produce and colleagues would have a ‘Bake Off ‘style kitchen to cook together.

Holograms, haircuts and micro-farming - radical ideas to design future workplace

The young people didn’t share the current trend of shared workspaces but wanted a mix of collaborative areas combined with isolated working pods that they could customise for their own requirements and mood. When employees need to focus on their work in peace and quiet they would climb into their hanging pod where they would work alone on an interactive desk. They saw a high ceiling as wasted space and decided that these hanging pods could be placed there, creating more room for socialising and leisure.

The importance of sleep was also raised – if you couldn’t get eight hours at home, why not sleep at work? One young pupil designed a desk that can be flipped round to provide a bed, equipped with a built-in alarm clock to make sure you wouldn’t oversleep.

Holograms, haircuts and micro-farming - radical ideas to design future workplace

Following a similar workshop carried out in Oslo, Jorgen Josefsson, Managing Director, HÅG (a brand of Scandinavian Business Seating) said: “It’s been really exciting to see how the youth of London and Oslo compare, both groups show enthusiasm for good design and appreciate the importance of a good work-life balance. It is also clear to see that Generation Z expect their employers to look after their wellbeing by designing spaces that enhance this and provide areas suitable for a variety of different tasks. This is in keeping with our whole ethos – the HÅG philosophy is based on the fact that the human body is not made for sitting still but for movement and variation. We strongly believe in good design and ergonomics where ever you are working. This workshop has been fascinating to explore how we can continue to bridge the gap between furniture design and the workplace.”

Holograms, haircuts and micro-farming - radical ideas to design future workplace

The pupils were committed to the idea of health and fitness in the workplace, but at the same time wanted simple tasks such as moving around the office to be as effortless as possible, such as using Segways or chairs that mould to your body shape. One young person proposed a swinging chair with a built-in desk computer – the kinetic motion of the chair would generate its own energy. Other sustainable features included wind turbines and solar panels.

Basma Elboussaki, 17, said:

It was a great experience – opening up your ideas. It was amazing to see how diverse our ideas were and how optimistic we are about the future. We want to include things you do at home – being active and energetic. We are concerned with nature and the environment – we are aware of how we should sustain our future. I am now more interested in interior design and furniture as well as architecture as a career. It is important to look at the small details as well as the big picture.

Holograms, haircuts and micro-farming - radical ideas to design future workplace

Nezliya Muhara, 16, said: “We want to be comfortable – to enjoy working and going to work and being healthy. We want to bring nature into work – have stuff in the office that makes you happy”

The ‘Workspace Invaders’ workshop took place on the 10th November brought together 16 young people aged 16-18 to imagine what they expect of their future workplace. The workshop was managed by Open-City (the charity responsible for the popular Open House architecture weekends), who invited the group of young people to take part in the workshop and be mentored by 8 leading architects.

The design professionals were drawn from high profile British and international practices including Allies & Morrison, Buckley Grey Yeoman, Burwell Deakins, Jestico + Whiles, Orms and Sheppard Robson. The architects gave design advice for each team of youngsters, giving them the tools to bring their vision to life. The young people all attend London state schools and the workshop offered them an incredible opportunity to experience high quality design training.

The aim of the workshop was to inspire the next generation, giving young people the opportunity to design and work with talented professionals. HÅG (a brand of Scandinavian Business Seating) was also fascinated to gain insight from minds that are not blinkered by the stereotypes of office life.

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