Ozone, Open Offices, Sky Ceilings and Other Awesome 1968 Office Predictions

Following the lead of the recent post, The Office of the Future… from 1985, I decided to keep researching office predictions from the past and came across another amazing article. I have added some commentary throughout the article as well.

Office Workers of Future Will Toil Among Comforts

by Roy Malone, April 18, 1968

“Office workers in the year 2000 will have all of the comforts of home, and them some.

Ozone to breathe for stimulation, individualized environments and landscaped offices with baffled walls, drapes, fuzzy furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting to muffle sound.

Apparently even small amounts of Ozone are harmful to breathe. Sure, lots of companies have wall-to-wall carpet, but it seems like it is way cooler to have a cement floor. I do like the sound of fuzzy furniture though.

These were forecast by Charles H. Henderson this week as the annual business show of the St. Louis chapter of the Administrative Management Society.

Henderson is vice president of Art Metal, Inc., a Jamestown, N.Y. office furniture manufacturer.

He predicts luxurious environments for future offices in order to attract and satisfy professional and technical office workers who will be much in demand.

“We have over-partitioned our offices in this country to the point of lunacy, “Henderson said. “The open look is tomorrow’s office design. No barriers, open offices, supervisors centrally located. This engenders a democratic team spirit. It will raise morale and self esteem of employees, thereby increasing productivity.”

Henderson admits the open space floor plan will be hard on office politicians. And allows that executives will still feel the need of some kind of barrier between themselves and the workforce “to eliminate distractions”.

I love that normal employees are somehow not distracted by open plan, but executives are, and therefore need a barrier.

Exponents of the European idea of no fences between workers say the entire area becomes a sea of activity and the movement of one individual is not noticed.

“Environment Planning,” said Henderson, “will cater to creature comforts – the five senses. The purpose is to remove sensory irritations. An employee should not feel chilly, hot, stifled, bored, or despondent.”

Henderson’s crystal ball is illuminated by talks he has with psychologists and extensions of present trends. He sees future office ceilings as a continuous glow of light, with slowly changing pastel hues to suggest clouds or wafting tree branches. Maybe there will be a tranquil fountain pool in the center.

Sky ceilings? Yes please. Unfortunately, individual environmental zones don’t really exist – though it does sound awesome. And also, office designers have tried to make them more fun, colorful, and alive to make employees less bored and despondent.

Small heatlamps and airflow louvers would allow separate temperature control for each worker. Ozone, like the thin, invigorating mountain air, would be produced electronically.

“We might have to pipe in some distracting noises, along with music, just to make people more comfortable, Henderson said.

To match it all, he opined, “computer will take over all of the routine paper work, even purge their own fields. The need for pen pushers will dwindle and the need for professional and technical office workers will increase tremendously. Companies are going to have to offer more generous accommodations.” “

Maybe they can just pump in thin, mountain air, Mulholland-style? Piping in distracting noise… Like garbage trucks or street traffic? No thanks. However, he was right on about pen pushers and the growing need for technical workers.