Future of Work: Beyond the Cubicle


By Drew Jones

On Thursday, February 13, I was fortunate to participate in a panel discussion about the future of work and corporate coworking at Workspring in Chicago. Using my new book, The Fifth Age of Work, as a starting point, we put together thought-provoking questions and combined discussion topics from the audience.  John Pipino of Doblin and Sam Rosen of Desktime and One Design brought their deep experiences in managing innovation to the table, while Danielle Galmore of Workspring served as moderator.

The conversation was diverse and hopefully provocative for the attendees. At the center of the discussion was the process of bringing the flow of the coworking movement to corporate environments. According to a study conducted by software company Intuit, more than 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers by 2020. It’s vital for companies to proactively redesign their workplace to foster more coworking-like space, adapting to the evolving work culture and moving beyond the cubicle to bring innovation for teams.

If space design is limited, companies should allow employees to work remotely from time to time, whether at home or at a coworking space. Research has shown coworking increases productivity, freedom and creativity, decreasing employee boredom and burnout.

One great example of a forward thinker in the industry is Steelcase, Workspring’s parent company. Steelcase has long been a collaborator with (and investor in) IDEO, one of the most successful innovation agencies in the world. This partnership demonstrates the company’s commitment to design and the future of work. You can see this through Workspring, a space designed for collaboration and productivity through coworking, off-site meetings, and private studios.

Kraft Foods is also heading in the coworking direction in their Northfield, Illinois office. Change, it turns out, is possible.

Drew is the author of The Fifth Age of Work and Partner at Conjunctured Coworking space in Austin, TX. He is also an organizational consultant, writer, and business school professor.  


Alternative Workplace Strategies, Insights