The Nomad Class Envisions The Desk of 2020

By Melanie Ehrenkranz

December 5, 2016

“Your desk is killing you” led to the (quite literal) rise in standing desks and, enter the Apple Watch, constant wrist reminders to simply stand up. But for some, raising their screens a few feet wasn’t liberating enough. Thanks to tech, creative professionals are setting up—and standing up—anytime, anywhere. They’re a part of an emerging, untethered group: the Nomad Class.

Our new Nomad Class Debrief from PSFK Labs explores how the rise of freelance, remote workers and distributed teams have shifted traditional notions of how and where we work. With the ability to connect with teams and clients around the globe, the new possibilities for a productive workspace are—virtually—limitless.

A nomad’s “desk” isn’t a desk at all. It may be a coworking space. It may be wearable screens. It may be a traveling hotspot.

PSFK asked seven experts on the future of nomadic living to envision their desk of the future—the Desk of 2020, to be exact. When we are no longer tethered to a stationary workspace and emerging technology like augmented reality, wearables, speedier Wi-Fi, wireless charging and connected devices now proliferate the day-to-day, what will our “desks” look like?

The Desk of 2020

“The workplace of the future isn’t so much a space, as it is the employee themselves and a compilation of the things that allow us to connect with anyone, anywhere, all of the time. Voice interfaces will allow us to interact with our surroundings and much of our lives will become automated. In the same way that standing-desks allowed humans to better utilize vertical office space, other control interfaces will allow humans to better utilize other physical planes, removing physical restrictions and taking where we work out of an office entirely” – Greg Albrecht, co-founder and CTO of Orion Labs


“To me, it’s not about the desk, but about the tools and objects needed to work and create. Technology will always change, but the need for a workspace filled with beauty and inspiration—whether that’s a corner office on Park Avenue or a temporary setup in a coffee shop in Stockholm—is constant” – Johanna Björk, Creative Principal, J.Björk Design Studio


“In 2020, the ‘desk’ should have two qualifiers: access to people and information. Where and how shouldn’t be factors. It should just work. Working from anywhere is possible by changing company cultures and advances in technology. But there are still limitations: you can’t be online in the air (Gogo doesn’t count), you have to ask for the password (unless you have Karma), speeds are still slow in certain places (my parents house) and don’t even get me started on staying connected out of the country. In 2020, it should just work” – Jessie Goldberg, Communications Manager at Karma


“The notion of having your own desk will become obsolete. A new, technologically driven take on hot desking will prevail. A desk that personalizes itself based upon who’s using it. All driven by your smartphone. A cableless utopia. The future desk will also handle health impactions of sitting at the desk for a prolonged period of time, giving you status updates regarding water intake, rate of movement etc., all focusing on providing a more productive space” – Samuel Cox , Creative Technologist at Dare, UK

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“The ideal desk of my future is quite simple. The timeless tools that cannot be beat for ideation are a pencil, some paper and a cup of coffee. Where the desk can get interesting is in the freedom of working wherever I’d like which would mean somewhere with a view, and working on things that are meaningful to me which is made possible by the accessibility of the internet. I had lots of ideas for how the desk could evolve to a computer or “smart desk” but when I really thought about it, the best, most effective way for me to work out ideas has and will most likely always be offline. That is also the kind of work I want to be doing more of, not spending hours going through my inbox. Online is a great place to share things, but not necessarily to create them which is what a desk represents to me, a sacred place for ideation” – Joe Hollier, Creator of the Light Phone


“Advances in augmented reality technologies such as Hololens, Magic Leap, and Glass will allow you to work almost completely untethered from a sheet of wood with four legs. Future You will work alongside an AI counterpart who deals with the majority of your day-to-day screen-based jobs, automating tasks and asking you for approval or help when needed. It speaks to you for most tasks, while augmenting any visuals you may need for more complex jobs. The desk of the future is balanced on your ears and nose” – Jordan Sheldrick, Creative at +rehabstudio


“The desk of 2020 is my brain.  Ubiquitous internet, wireless power, smart IoT devices, and augmented reality will mean I can work from anywhere.  I can capture ideas, edit documents, and be productive everywhere without feeling any compromise, or the need to wait until I get back to the comfort of an office.  I won’t need to worry about finding wifi or an outlet, and accessory devices will enhance/extend the abilities of my smartphone to make gestures, video, and dictation the preferred methods of input. The line between user and device will fade into nothingness” – Eric Corey Freed, Founding Principal, organicARCHITECT



This article was written by Melanie Ehrenkranz from PSFK and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.