Hub and spoke

In the coming decades we will see working models and working hours increase in flexibility. There will be a rise in part-time contracts and in ‘gig workers’.

Work models are in a state of flux. Over the coming decades, we will see increased flexibility in terms of work models and schedules. The fabric of industry will be even more diverse, both culturally and generationally, and part-time contracts and gig or on-call workers, those who collaborate on specific projects for a fixed period of time, will rocket in numbers. This shift does not mean that offices will disappear, however, as they are the “glue that keeps us together”, according to Andy Cohen, co-CEO of Gensler, a workspace consultancy. The office will be a meeting place for a wide range of worker profiles within a company, turning into an ecosystem where a central office, or hub, and other satellite spaces, or spokes, will coexist in harmony.

Drivers of change

In 2033, 66% of the working population will belong to the Generation Y, also known as millennials (born between 1984 and 2000), and Generation Z (born 2001 onwards). Their perspective of work has been drastically altered compared to that of previous generations and “they are accustomed to creating and managing their own personal brand on social media and methods of communication from a young age. They will be more international, they will have greater intercultural skills and a greater ability to adapt than professionals and, above all, they will have a much greater entrepreneurial spirit” (Source: PWC. Trabajar en 2033 [“Work in 2033”]). A new work culture is taking shape. 

Working remotely, at least several days a week, will be of vital importance for this generation. 55% of American employees would prefer to work from home at least three days a week after the pandemic; however, 87% state that the office plays an important role for collaborating with their team members and building relationships, which are their greatest needs (Source: PWC. Work remote).

The office is here to remain, but possibly in a different format. […] I certainly hope the days of regimented rows of desks disappearing into the horizon are over, to be replaced by a more pluralistic, people-centric and humane approach”.
Sevil Peach, interior architect.

The result

Offices will be more flexible spaces which are adapted to work groups that change for each project. This means that the space’s ability to transform will be fundamental for creating offices that are suitable for workers’ new requirements. Offices will become meeting places for teamwork, which must be able to create interaction between people and which have less space dedicated to desks and computers. Models such as hot desking, where multiple workers use a workspace at different times of the day, will be more commonplace, as well as team workspaces and new tools like working walls and conference booths. 

This way, we will find more people than desks in the office of the future, since the space will be split up into areas used for different purposes: concentration spaces, brainstorming zones, teamwork rooms and workshops, to name but a few. As Andy Cohen, co- CEO of Gensler, puts it, “We can make it easier by creating these different zones that you can choose between depending on the type of work you are going to do that day, something that is extremely important.” 

In open models that have seen a surge in popularity over the past few years, the ability to concentrate is brought into question, and now these may start being ditched in favour of more compartmentalised work models.

Design keys

Hot desking

Work desks that do not have a single worker assigned to them but that will require new tools to create healthy and personalised spaces.

Closed spaces

Faced with doubts concerning the ability to concentrate in open-plan office spaces, flexible architecture solutions and soundproofing materials will be key in the coming years.

Fostering creativity

The office as a meeting and interaction place must feature new spaces that foster group work and informal meetings given the drop in the number of unplanned meetings that used to occur during the working day in shared spaces.

Videoconference booths

These have become a daily reality during the working day, although offices have not been met with a greater demand for their use in the day-to-day working life.


A cross between an office and a cubicle, these are a new generation of cubicles that guarantee privacy and air flow and offer improved aesthetics.

Kitchens as spaces for connecting

Offices are vital for building a corporate culture. So in this new reality, the kitchen may become a space where workers can socialise in a more flexible and relaxed manner compared to meeting rooms.

Case studies

Vitra has designed Dancing Wall, a rolling partition that is perfect for creating smaller spaces within the office depending on the changing needs that appear throughout the workday.

Toa Folding Screen, designed by Robin Rizzini for Pedrali.
Allsteel is researching collaboration in the workspace with the use of Two Thirds puffs to create its settings.
Architecture studio Perkins & Will has set up a mixed office model that encourages a fluid work style, featuring mobile meeting spaces by using moving walls and soft curtains. The project is called Pop-Up Meeting Space.

Discover more

Haworth and Patricia Urquiola have come up with Pergola, a scalable and personalisable space that allows employees to work in different styles.