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Fast Forward 2005: 7 - 11

The future is something to get excited about again. Here's our look at the surprising people, ideas, and trends that will change how we work and live in 2005.

Spotlight: Cubicle Culture

Life in the water-cooler world in 2005

Item What it is Our take
7. Tiered work spaces An office plan in which the height of the floor increases the farther you are from a window, so more desk denizens can enjoy sunshine. Natural light equals happy workers. But watch out for your shins.
8. Max Barry's Company A satiric novel due out next fall featuring a company "so huge that nobody who works for it knows what it actually does." Stir into motion the angle-players, bureaucrats, and suck-ups after merciless layoffs. Let the follies begin. Barry's cult novels Syrup and Jennifer Government established him as a gifted business satirist. Expect more informed viciousness about the hierarchies we endure.
9. Conference room cafe Sitting down in a conference room immediately creates a hierarchy, and big projectors emphasize content over people. Solution: Barstool-like seats replace chairs to foster egalitarianism, and mini-displays replace a single screen. If you want to collaborate, you need a conducive environment. So our meeting spaces copy the best ideas from our social hangouts like cafes and bars. The usual, bartender!
10. Desk-friendly food Cup-holder food is passe. Expect to see products designed to be eaten at our desk. Lender's, for example, has a single bagel with cream cheese, knife, and napkin, all in the same pack. IT departments, already used to degunking keyboards, shudder. Will keyboards start to feature a toaster-oven-style crumb tray?
11. Granny chic Casual is out, bare skin is out; tweed, pearls, and brooches are in. Look on the bright side: No more uncomfortable conversations with coworkers whose low-rise jeans don't rise quite enough.

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