What's the office of the future?
For Regus, which operates close to 2,000 business centers globally, it isn't one where workers stand, walk, or even squat. No, it envisions a world in which people are sitting—in a self-driving office, that is.
On Monday, the company gave a sneak peek at an autonomous concept car, one where the two fronts seats swivel backwards to create a meeting space for four people. In partnership with Rinspeed, a creative studio focusing on the automotive industry, Regus unveiled the XchangE, which will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March. In addition to the swiveling chairs, the car's infotainment system will let workers connect to their office and create presentations. Yes, traffic jams will become a lot more productive.
"Right now, many of us suffer through long, traffic-plagued commutes to and from work, the airport, or client meetings. It’s just dead-time when you aren’t doing much," Sande Golgart, West regional vice president at Regus, told Fast Company. "If the XchangE helps people get their work completed or their deal struck while they’re traveling from one place to another, then that’s less work they have to take home with them."
It's important to note that radical ideas for concept cars get dreamed up all the time, but it's actually very rare that they go into production. Instead, they serve to illustrate the potential of new technologies and gauge consumer reaction. In the event a concept does enter mass production, the outcome is often much different, with designs altered for reasons of safety, practicality, and regulation.
Indeed, there are arguments being made about offices being bad for productivity, so why not try to get work done in the car? The hands-free nature of autonomous cars opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to new experiences inside a vehicle. "Right now, we're envisioning this will have a dramatic impact on the interior of the vehicle," said Danny Larsen, manager for interiors and advanced design studios at Johnson Controls' automotive division, which is not involved with the XchangE.
While Regus envisions professionals working in the XchangE, Golgart said it doesn't have to be all about business. "People don’t have to use the car for work purposes," he added. "They could use the comfortable seats and connectivity to play a computer game with their kids if they wanted."