I want to work in an environment that makes me happy – that inspires my curious mind, encourages my unique voice, and enables me to collaborate with others.

Meet Drew: Drew is an established software developer competing in a rapidly growing industry of creativity and innovation. Like many others of his generation, Drew can be considered a “social” employee, part of a growing “on-demand” workforce, largely in the tech sector, working smarter across the globe.

Drew wants to work (and play) hard in an environment that supports a lifestyle, not just a paycheck.

Creating such an environment however, means anticipating the needs of a highly competitive and rapidly growing network of industries. It means staying at the forefront of a developing culture that voluntarily blurs the lines between workspace and social space. It means being as agile and forward thinking as they are.

So… How do we support Drew’s present needs while preparing him and his colleagues to embrace future change?

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We can start with a simple answer: be receptive and adaptable. Create an environment that helps Drew and others like him thrive – a place they enjoy being – while supporting the business goals of the companies who employ them. Discover how trends and developments in technology will influence Drew’s world and impact the environments in which he works. Consider the broader factors stemming from trends in industry, markets, and customers…

Basically, we have to RETHINK WORK!

…And do it from Drew’s perspective. What are the core environmental components that define this new take on the workplace – and on work in general?

Interior design catalyzes the work created within it, and becomes an essential piece of a company’s daily life. Culture grows from within architecture and landscape. The patterns and behaviors that become cultural pillars manifest themselves over time as people adapt to their work environments. The more “at home” people feel, the more they act like it.

The key to anticipating these patterns is predicting how people will use their space, what “rituals” they will develop over time, and ultimately making design choices that will foster natural company culture, quality, and creative work.

Like most companies, Drew’s organization is facing increasingly sophisticated challenges. Time and resources are in high demand, and sometimes short supply. Changes on the horizon are becoming more and more apparent, affecting the company’s ability to attract and retain talent. Emerging technology, shifting management styles, simply how people connect with one another… Each has an impact on infrastructure. For Drew’s company and many others, the future is foggy.

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So, how do we create a place for Drew to create, to connect, to work, that isn’t another typical workplace? How does design keep pace with change?

Let’s go back to the beginning. Drew is a member of “Generation Y.” He remembers life before the rise of digital technology – when people would organize, plan, and interact with others without the useful tools and resources offered by the internet and mobile devices.

Although Drew has an appreciation for unfettered mobility, he still values true social connection, structure, and communities that allow face-to-face contact. To anticipate and meet such needs in this newly defined workspace, we need to support not only his workstyle, but also his lifestyle with the environmental elements that define them.

We can do this by applying a few basic planning principles:

  1. The “office” must serve as a platform for knowledge and collaboration.
  2. Create articulation within the architecture through a palette of well-defined zones.
  3. Plan for a multi-generational office – no “one size fits all” model.
  4. View workplace as inherently tied to culture. Synchronize architecture with core values, cultural staples, and brand identity.
  5. Make technology more “human,” adding energy to work, not draining energy from it.
  6. Support life-long learning and individual growth.
  7. View wellness as a key resource in the office economy.
  8. Recognize (and embrace) that there is no norm.

An environment built with these principles in mind – built for Drew and the growing workforce like him – will be as nimble and resourceful as the people using it:

Comfortable – suited for portable computing and not tied to traditional workstations.

Motivating – with high-performance areas like innovation labs and “war rooms” blending seamlessly with working cafes and “3rd places,” spaces between work and home for recreation and social collaboration.

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Aesthetic – providing an environment that feeds creativity and fosters community while reflecting common goals, interests, and organizational identity.

Drew thrives in a place that is part of both his personal and professional life, where trading music happens side by side with trading project ideas, where he feels like part of something contributing to the greater good, with his own crucial role to play. The physical space must enable and empower those ideals. Drew wants a workplace that reflects his identity – and the only way to provide that is to get to know Drew!