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What Is the Future of the Workplace After Returning To Work?

There’s been a real estate revolution on the horizon for decades, but it took a pandemic like COVID-19 to force the evolutionary leap into the next generation of the workplace. When your company starts to “return to the great unknown” - A.K.A. the office - things will not be as you remember. Your office space is relatively the same, but your company as a whole is different. Little things like working from the kitchen table with a pet curled at your feet have left a lasting impression on your psyche. This is the great challenge; facilitating those positive and productive reactions while re-cultivating the office culture that has been desperately missed by many.

Some will point to COVID-19 as a temporary reason for examining the efficiency, health, and technology of our spaces. The reality is that a much more seismic shift had occurred. There is no going back, we can only move forward and embrace the spaces of tomorrow, as much as we can perceive them from today. This is not so much about a pandemic, but the society that has been rapidly and hastily shaped by such dramatic changes in a short period of time. Change is inevitably a bit uncomfortable, but there are some silver linings to the future.

Society and associated environments typically move slowly over time. Spurred along by the forerunners and innovators, pushing the envelope of what is viable, acceptable, and affordable, dragging along those who seek the tried-and-true methods of decades past. Lunging forward in great leaps and stuttering back a few steps in the following years, a broad cycle plays out in the world of design and what is old is new again…with a bit of a twist.

Long has there been a discussion of the time when a tipping point would hit, forever altering society and our built environments. To be fair, many of these factors have been growing for some time, but it has all come to a boiling point at once during the pandemic. The result is the need (not desire) to change how we interact with our live/work/play environments. This isn’t so that we can have a brighter future, but so that we can have one at all. The Spaces of the Future study takes a practice-based look forward to a point we must strive to reach in the months and years to come. In service of this greater goal, we will not dwell on the origins and influences of the mounting pressures, but rather, accept them as challenges to be met and overcome:

1. Perspective - Step back and look forward.

2. Euthenics – The human scale interaction of built spaces.

3. Interface Technology – Virtual and augmented technologies.

4. Interface Spaces – Where we interact physically and virtually.

5. Invisible Support – The ecosystems of healthy spaces.

6. Place-making – Stitching the nodes together.

7. SHYFT Collective – Walking the path.

The structure of this study is based around the built environment’s evaluation in the critical light of new days. The design of our everyday spaces must proactively play a role in proving what was good enough for yesterday will not suffice for tomorrow. Perspectives vary and the intent of this study is to take a broad, categorical look at the varied facets of society, environments, and the interface points between them. The synopsis looks at a sample and examines how these premises may apply to our office and potentially yours. Read the full Spaces of the Future Study here.


As your company plans to return to work, do you have concerns about how your culture may have been impacted over the last year? Are you interested to know what your employees’ and members’ concerns are about returning to work/training?

If so, SHYFT has created a survey free of charge for you to review and assess if the metrics would be valuable for your return-to-work plan and culture revamp in this new age. Below are a couple of output metrics you can expect to see once completing the survey:

If you are interested in testing this survey to see if it will work for your organization, please reach out to SHYFT here and we’d be happy to work with you in distributing to your team and compiling the results.

We are here to help you and your employees return to work with confidence.

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