Your future workplace: A network of offices and teams

The workplace's largest global experiment due to the global pandemic has amplified two trends: Remote work and collaborating in distributed teams. These trends change our perception of the office environment.

The largely successful way of working encouraged by public health work from home mandates has escalated a movement already underway. Remote work is here for the long haul. Talented workers drive demand for flexibility with scenarios conforming to their life, rather than the other way around.

Let's review what these trends mean for the future workplace:

Your office is wherever you work

The globalization of our economy, mobile device usage, and significant technology advances altered employee reliance on physical office space. The office is where you get your work done: In your corporate office, at a coffee shop, in your home, or in a coworking space.

With access to a computer and Wifi, you are at the office. Now that WFH is a requirement, people have increased their skills to collaborate with coworkers via meeting platforms.

However, all is not ideal. According to Gensler Research Institute's Return to Work Survey, Millennials and Gen Z workers have expressed concerns.

Due to a lack of a dedicated workspace, they have higher distractions and lower satisfaction rates in their personal environments. Older workers who have home offices say they are more satisfied and productive.

Shrinking office space will serve employees part of the time

The modern workplace is evolving to a distributed network of offices rather than a focus on any one location. This could lead to smaller corporate offices, decentralized regional offices and increased use of coworking spaces.

Organizations don't need a desk and chair for every employee at headquarters. Post-COVID-19, most people expect to choose when and where they work, coming into the office as needed.

Some organizations like Facebook, Twitter, and Upwork have granted permanent remote work options for their employees. Others are making the option available for varying timeframes.

Distributed teams lead to a sustainable remote work model

In the vocabulary of computer networks, remote office workers behave like nodes who share resources and communicate with each other to accomplish a project.

When employees see each other regularly, collaboration is often accomplished through organic methods. Although not exclusively, ideas ignite, and planning begins in the corridors or by the water cooler in spontaneous fashion.

Before COVID-19, well-designed open office space relied on interaction with managers, teams, and senior leaders who weighed in on your latest thoughts.

Whether you work in HR, Marketing, or IT, office work doesn't get done now unless you mobilize a team, schedule meetings, and establish projects in support of a common goal.

Distributed teams are assembled with the best available remote talent.

Work will become more project focused

Work is project focused for efficiency and to ensure completion.

You may require skilled project managers to accomplish the work and meet deadlines. Even if you did not rely on this type of professional in the past, you will quickly welcome the expertise.

Employees, consultants, and contractors learned to optimize distributed team workstyles with the help of project management methods and agile frameworks for getting work done. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Asana make it possible.

People are learning new tools. Shashi Singh, founder of Agile N2N, an agile consulting company said, "While allowing individuals to choose the place of work, it has become important for people to collaborate with each other. Leaders and organizations need to enable the workforce with collaboration tools."

Bottom Line: The trends of remote work and collaborating in distributed teams, already happening before the crisis, will accelerate, adapting to the changing needs of organizations and individuals.

• Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist and the best-selling author of Activate Your Agile Career. Learn more at

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