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Tales from the Office of the Future

We have been asked this question many times now: “Is working from home the new normal?”

“Our predictions are never 100% correct”, says Vidlet's CEO, Patricia Roller when she reflects on a study she worked on with a team at frog design almost 40 years ago. The study imagined an “office of the future”. If you look at the picture below, it got many things right. Camera, conferencing… it’s all there. So, what did the team miss? Is this pretty much it?

A prototype of an “Office of the Future”, created in 1986 by the team at frog design.

With a few notable large companies announcing a new fully-remote model, and other giants who are going the other way with large, luxury campuses, it is hard to tell what the outcome of the great work-from-home experiment will be. Are large companies that are going fully remote just doing it as a PR stunt, as some of our recent study participants suspect?

While we gather insights from the outside, we can’t help but think about our personal experience with working in 2022. Vidlet is a fully remote team, and has been since the onset of the pandemic. We currently have no plans to go back to an office, as we’ve found a way to make this work for our small team. We are clear that we have to meet in person occasionally, and will do so by investing in experiences, like a recent trip to Napa Valley. As we present to clients daily, we can also sense that there are corporate cultures that have a harder time with virtual interactions only. Cameras consistently turned off are a telltale sign sometimes - who’s paying attention? It’s hard to tell if this type of “virtual culture clash” (“camera-on” teams vs. “camera-off” teams) may become a norm or gradually fade away.

We’ve also run into companies with policies that are relaxed about where and how you work—as long as you can make it into an office for meetings with a certain amount of hours, basically freedom with a leash.

There is absolutely a change to “work culture” that will take place. What does this mean for the future? Time will tell. The office of the future image that was imagined 40 years ago did get a lot right, but the rest of the story is yet to be written. Let’s keep up the conversation on this fascinating subject.

Vidlet has managed to increase productivity under a fully remote structure, but we have worked hard to build an open, honest, and fun culture with things like daily all-hands zoom calls and quarterly in-person retreats, like this one in Napa Valley in May 2022.

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