What the Office Will Look Like in 2024


Three Office Design Predictions for 2024

In 2024, tech companies will embrace eavesdropping. Financial service firms will try to recreate coffee shop warmth. And law offices will let in more light.

That’s according to the architecture and design firm Gensler, which recently released its design predictions for next year. As the company works with clients to upgrade their office spaces, they’re urging them to focus less on how many people are swiping into the office – and more on the well-being of the teams and individuals that do show up, says Natalie Engels, Gensler's Global Practice Area Community Co‑Leader. Here’s how a few different industries will take on the challenge.


Financial service firms are famously spartan compared to the ping pong table-laden, snack-heavy tech offices of Silicon Valley. But as they try to ramp up return-to-office compliance, Engels says banks and finance companies are realizing they, too, need to make their spaces more inviting and experience-based. “They hadn't leaned into the coffee bar, some of the amenities that we had seen typically in the tech industry,” she said in an interview. Now, she says, they’re starting to ask, “What are some of these conveniences that we find in other experiences, that are not bad to have in the workplace?”

The coffee isn’t what’s important; it’s the ability to move between a desk and a perhaps more comfortable workspace throughout the day. “In cases where it is high stress and high-performing, what do people need in that situation to take a break without having to leave and totally remove themselves?” Engels says.


Law firms are also reckoning with the role that design plays in their employees’ mental health. In many legal offices, windows open into personal office rooms, which tend to have glazed walls for privacy. That prevents employees on the interior from accessing true natural light, messing up their sense of time and their mood.​​​​​​

Gensler worked with Cassels, a Canadian law firm, to increase “light equity” in their office. The floor now has a gathering space with access to windows and outdoor views, along with traditionally divided workspaces. “It’s not that it completely disrupted how they are working, but it's starting to transform,” said Engels.


Tech is the industry where remote work has perhaps been the stickiest, but it’s also long set the standard for well-being-focused workplace design. Where before, global companies may have rolled out new design concepts worldwide based on top-down priorities, Engels says there will be a new emphasis on testing different lighting, patterns, workspace orientations, and even drop-in locations outside of headquarters hubs. “They’re trying to dial in what will work and what maybe doesn’t,” she said. “It’s leaning into sustainability and resilience differently.”

For all the talk about younger generations of workers learning from their more experienced counterparts through face-to-face collaboration, not all offices are actually designed for mentorship. The office of the future, in tech and beyond, will create spaces to facilitate that connection, Engels said, while also allowing for a kind of productive eavesdropping.

“We got to a point pre-pandemic where people were going into enclosed spaces to have all their calls. Even during the pandemic, there was no overhearing,” said Engels. “Now what we're seeing is we're designing the open space a bit more with the team in mind, and teaching and mentorship in mind.” Enclosed spaces will still be the norm for confidential conversations, but in tech and beyond, Gensler predicts office spaces will prioritize openness. Listening in on your colleagues' conversations can be tantalizing – but it can also be a better model for how to get things done (or how not to) than any formal training session.

At the end of the day, an office is where you go to do work. It’s never going to be the space you look forward to visiting most. But Engels says companies are also realizing that desks look a little more appealing if offices are situated near things employees do want to visit — like cultural institutions, theaters, and civic gathering spaces. “We’re starting to see a lot of companies want to migrate towards those,” she said. If they’re already locked into commercial space, Engels says, offices are looking at activating their ground floors more intentionally, and bringing in the café or events space themselves.

Whether it’s cozy, comfy, or just a bit more Instagrammable, the office of the future is coming. Are you ready?


“If I do not bring any unique voice and it divides my employees pretty much down the middle, that's not the job of a CEO. However, I don't hesitate at all to make comments on issues that are very public if they relate to the company.”
John Chambers
former CEO of Cisco Systems
Chambers says it's a mistake for company leaders to comment on everything.

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