I attended a presentation recently at Gensler, the architectural firm on trends in workplace design. They talked about creating the workplace of the future. Gensler is an integrated architecture, planning and consulting firm so they are in the perfect arena to envision and design a new generation of workplaces. As the discussion on workplace trends progressed it got me thinking about how this will affect the way we show up for work. Will business dress continue to get more casual? Or will the futuristic workplace trends cause workers to dress more conservatively as a hedge against getting too comfortable?
Some of the trends that came out of the discussion are that the current and future workforce is multi-generational. We have been experiencing this for a while and as time goes by it will get more pronounced with baby boomers retiring and more Generation Z’s entering the workplace.
The rise of the gig economy, or fact that we are all freelancing is another trend that will only be getting more pronounced. WeWork and other co-working office spaces are already catering to this market. Gensler believes that the newer traditional workplaces will start resembling a co-working office space, rather than the other way around.
As the boundary between work and leisure time continues to get blurred workplaces will become like small cities. You will be able to food shop, get your hair cut, or pick up drug store items on your lunch break, without leaving the building. Integrated technology becomes a key requirement in offices and this is easier to facilitate in more open floor plans.
With the workplace getting more casual, it makes sense that business attire will be affected as well. In my opinion, business dress will continue to slide towards the casual spectrum. Spending more time in the office along with using it for more personal facets of your life would cause you to get dressed less formally. Meeting with different people of various generations, some employees and some freelancers blurs the line of who’s actually employed. Similarly utilizing collaborative spaces for meetings rather than board room type arrangements would indicate a more casual lifestyle. If you can curl up on a common room sofa with your laptop for a meeting, wouldn’t you rather be in something casual? Clothing in the near future will need to be versatile since with current trends in workplace design I see a closer integration between work and non-work life; deciding what to wear in this workplace of the future will be tricky as I predict it will trend towards the casual end of business dress yet we still need to project a professional message.