Future Centers: Prototyping the Office of Tomorrow?

August 22 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

If the Future Centers of Europe—open, comfortable and collaborative hubs were established to encourage groups of people problem-solve, brainstorm and generally think creatively about the future of their companies or organizations. Are they an indicator of changing work attitudes and styles? See for yourself:

It is tempting, at first glance, to think of Future Centers a conference facilities or even classrooms and there is some similarity. However, Future Centers are designed not for people to merely absorb information, but rather to exchange it. They are, as the video above says mind friendly spaces for our new knowledge economy. The philosophy behind future centers is that how people think about problems and how they exchange information is essential to innovation. Future Centers seek to break down barriers of hierarchy and formality to encourage connections and the free exchange of ideas. Sound familiar? It’s the same basic philosophy inherent in the world wide web.

The spaces themselves are open-air and comfortable, even homey.  There are no cubicles and, in a given space, a minimum number of walls.  The architecture itself can be playful to inspire and stimulate creativity as seen in the Royal Mail innovation lab in England.  Or the architecture can be futuristic to remind collaborators to think outside of normal boundaries such as in Mind Lab in Denmark.  All of the future centers featured encourage collaboration by minimizing the boundaries between self and the group.

If future centers continue to yield high-value intellectual fruit through synergy, perhaps this indicates that in the future there will be no corner office.  Instead we’ll all be working together in a big corner office, with touch-screen computers covering all the walls.  

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