Brand Identity Essentials
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The Future of Work
Let's talk about the opportunities.
People will work from home. Full stop.
People will work at coffee shops, restaurants, airports, hotels, Uber rides, malls, and Disneyland.
There need to be better options for various types of meetings at different places and times of the day. Work will happen everywhere – in cafés, airports, on a bus, a park, theaters, living rooms, malls, hospitals, walking trails, and campsites. What products can support this kind of work? Who are the competitors and market alternatives? Who are the buyers, and how can you reach them?
People will work in offices.
The case for same-time, same-place
Offices need to be smaller, nicer, and closer.
Beyond the backpack
From B2B2C and back again
What is an office?
Looking back, we might reflect on the key innovations which drove the industry forward. There have been many great ideas and business decisions, but there have been perhaps two primary innovations before the current era: Systems furniture and ergonomic seating. The trajectory sparked by technology and knowledge work and accelerated by the pandemic has changed the space equation. The question is: What comes next?
1960s - Systems furniture
1980s - Ergonomic seating
2000s - (Digital disruption?)
This industry created and contributed to the development of facilities management as a practice, ergonomics as we know it, and the LEED standard. New themes will arise as “office” becomes more of a verb and work is more distributed. Sustainability has new meaning in the wake of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), climate change, stakeholder capitalism, and global economic upheaval. Knowledge workers with greater agency will seek organizations with a clear purpose that aligns with their priorities.
Can furniture companies help clients with these new challenges? It may sound far-fetched, but IDEO was an industrial design company before becoming a global consultancy competing with Accenture and McKinsey. Apple only sold computers, and Amazon only sold books. A hundred years ago, furniture companies weren't thinking about ergonomics, sustainability, or wellness, but they adapted to address the customer's problem.
Reinvention and rebirth
The pendulum dramatically swung from in-person to remote work during the pandemic. For some, it's already returned to its original position. Nostalgia and a desire to return to normal are powerful urges, but even more potent forces – economic, cultural, and human capital – will find a new center.
The challenge and opportunity for the commercial design industry is to be decisive and pivot quickly. Wherever people work, live, learn, and play, people will need a place to sit, lean, focus, socialize, and collaborate. Tables and chairs aren't going away. People may use even more furniture, but less will be in traditional offices, bought in the traditional way. It'll be at home and elsewhere. Mature industries rely on momentum, but every business is built on an unmet need. New solutions will cater to people's needs – what they are doing, what they prefer, and what they are trying to achieve.
Here are a few themes to consider:
💡 Meaningfully engage stakeholders