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Prediction: Big Companies Will Start Giving up on Offices in 2017

Cubicles Disappearing From WorkplaceCubicles Disappearing From Workplace

The staff of Fortune is assembling its predictions for 2017 in our annual feature, the Fortune Crystal Ball, now on newsstands in the December 1 issue of the magazine. Here’s one of our forecasts.

The first to go was the personal office. Then the cubicle bit the dust. Now, even open offices are at risk, as designated seats began to vanish, replaced by “hot desks” that belong to everyone and no one. In 2017, we predict that the slow dissolution of the workplace will reach its natural conclusion, with the first Fortune 100 company deciding to jettison the office altogether. After all, why foot a hefty real estate bill when technology allows workers to do everything from meet, manage projects, share documents, and even trade office gossip (thank you, Slack!) from anywhere in the world?

But even as the office goes fully virtual, a backlash is brewing. Look for upticks in ergonomic complaints as workers hunch over laptops or telecommute from their couches, drop-offs in mentoring as office relationships go long-distance, and a surge in burnouts as employees find themselves literally living at the office.