Experts such as Kathryn Bishop, foresight editor at The Future Laboratory – a company that says it has ‘future proofed’ more than 1,000 businesses in 50 countries – suggests the workplace post (or even mid) Covid-19 will likely be defined by people’s desire to return, rather than the necessity. And while social distancing in offices may not be ideal, the challenge of engineering the ultimate socially-distant space has been a good excuse to think about what constitutes a good office anyway – not just practically, but for our mental health and happiness.
“Open plan has completely failed,” Bishop reflects on our Zoom call, gesturing around The Future Laboratory’s open plan office and noting the irony. “People aren’t very productive. They don’t feel they have any privacy. It’s noisy. On the one hand, people quite like to understand the delineation between their employees and their colleagues in the office, so they know who the managers are [while thinking] ‘Is there somewhere where I can go and work privately as well?’”
Big questions around the future of work can produce debates that feel vague, existential even, and innovation becomes an equality issue when it comes to expensive high-tech solutions – so perhaps it’s best to start with the simplest practicalities that will affect offices large and small. Health and hygiene, rather than shiny new tech, are the key concerns, says Bishop. Read the full article on Huffington Post here.
Chris Sanderson, co-founder of London trend forecasting company The Future Laboratory predicts co-working spaces will continue to thrive, and says they are evolving in innovative ways:
“The changes we’ll see in the future are not so much about the evolution of the co-working space but more to do with how other spaces will evolve to include the opportunity for co-working,” says Sanderson. “Pre Covid-19 we had already started working on a number of projects which include hotel concepts for rooms with no beds – more about daily hire for private meetings, professional workspaces and the need for environments which could embrace both desk-based and other working requirements.”
As we move into the inter-CoVid-19 era, expect to see more co-working opportunities arise in the burbs, malls and strips as empty real estate is reconfigured for employees no longer required to make the daily slog of a commute but who either don’t want to or can’t base themselves at home long term. Read the full article on The Office Space.
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Kathryn Bishop, from renowned future trends consultancy The Future Laboratory, has shared her predictions on the future of the office on the latest episode of Working from Home with Stylist. Speaking to Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarksi, Bishop discussed what might happen to the physical office, our ways of working and work/life balance. “We might start to find what we describe as rotational offices start to emerge,”Bishop says. “This could almost be a riff on what we’ve seen in co-working spaces: there’s more of a casual office working space, maybe [rather] than having one solid permanent office space that your company uses. Even these buildings aren’t pandemic-proof anymore, they’re not fit for purpose, so we’re going to have architects really starting to think actually about the design of the office.”
She continues: “There’s also this need for greater flexibility. What we’ve found with people working from home, we’ve got used to having our own routines in a way, but we’re still looking towards our employers to give us guidance around what these routines need to be.” Explaining how this will all affect our work/life balance, Bishop adds: “The idea of ‘flexibility’ will absolutely underpin everything. Covid-19 has given women the opportunity to think about their own rhythm, it’s raised the level of attention to our own personal health, it’s reframed our working days. “A lot of people are tapping into their circadian rhythms thinking ‘hey I think I actually work really great between 6-9pm so actually I’m going to start my day later’. The employers themselves are going to have to start thinking about the greater flexibility that we’re going to need.” Read the full article on Stylist or listen to the Kathryn on the Stylist podcast.
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Cleanliness, as the saying goes, is next to godliness, and this is particularly true in beauty products at the moment. A report by Grand View Research last year estimated the global organic personal care market size at $13.33 billion in 2018, with a significant growth expected in the next five years. “There is a clear influx of consumers opting for ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ across all product categories. But more so with products that come into direct contact with your body and skin, such as food and beauty,” says Livvy Houghton, Creative Researcher at the London-based strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory. “These industries tend to follow similar paths in the sense of ingredients, formats and concepts and are more often than not influenced by each other. Something to consider is familiarity of ingredients. If beauty products contain similar ingredients to food and drink items, they are more likely to be successful as consumers feel comfortable using them on their body and skin”. The full article can be read on Departures.
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"If you look at how brands rally around causes, it's usually popular causes and the causes of the majority, because what you're trying to do is align your brand with customer values. So you now have a customer who judges your brand not as an entity, but as a person or personality," said Martin Raymond, co-founder of trend-forecasting consultancy The Future Laboratory.
"Traditionally, it was useful for brands to sit on the fence but, increasingly, if you sit on the fence, you risk getting splinters on your bottom. You end up not really understanding the pendulum of history and where it's swinging, and where you need to be when that pendulum passes over you."
However, by aligning themselves with a cause, brands open themselves up to increased consumer scrutiny and criticism, which can be problematic when their pledges contradict their practices. Raymond points to the ongoing conversations around fashion brands' sustainability efforts, which have often been panned as "greenwashing": "If I examined your infrastructure, your logistics chain or your sourcing -- particularly in fashion -- I would find quite strange things sitting there that would be readily available for criticism and for challenge." Read the full article on CNN.
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Martin Raymond, co-founder of strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory, argues that learning was due a shake-up. “If you could time-port a university professor from the 19th century to today they would think few things have changed,” he says, referencing the youth of students and hierarchical system. “Prior to COVID-19, this was changing, especially for those in their 50s and 60s, millennials and members of Generation Z.
“We understand new skills, disciples and insights are needed to accommodate this multifaceted life-journey we are on. And since universities are still trying to accommodate the single career path, many organisations – recognising their employees will stay with them our research shows for 2.3 years maximum, unless there is a wider prize to be won – are becoming educators in their own right.”
Raymond celebrates the surge of blended learning, part digital, part remote, part face to face, and traces the trend for lifelong learning back to 2008 and the global financial crash, when jobs became more precarious. Read the full article on Raconteur.
Social-distancing measures mean close-contact beauty services, such as product demonstrations, manicures and eyebrow threading, are off the menu for the foreseeable future. Testers for make-up, fragrance and skincare have been removed from stores. But experimenting with the latest launches – painting a rainbow of lipstick shades on the back of a hand or checking a foundation shade is a good match – is what gives beauty halls their buzz. Unable to play around with products or get an expert makeover, customers have little reason to visit a bricks-and-mortar beauty hall.
“Beauty is a very touch-heavy category and so it is a long way off things going back to normal,” argues Livvy Hougton, creative researcher at trend intelligence agency The Future Laboratory. “Consumers will remain sceptical [about visiting beauty stores] in the immediate future.”
This has serious implications for fashion retailers, not least for the already-struggling department stores, which have relied heavily on glossy beauty counters to prop up flagging fashion sales. A plethora of high street names have also bet big on beauty over recent months, either by expanding their in-store beauty offerings or announcing plans to unveil entirely new beauty fascias. Read the full article on Draper's.