What does the future hold for trends in the workplace, and what have been the long-term effects of past trends? That was the main subject of a recent CoreNet Michigan panel discussion held at Rockford Construction’s “The Roc” on May 9 in downtown Grand Rapids. Our own Director of Design, Bryan Koehn, Twisthink’s Director of Design, Gordon Stannis, and Haworth’s Senior Workplace Design Strategist, Anjell Karibian, came together to answer questions and discuss the future of the workplace.

Google’s impact on workplace has been significant. The panel recognized the tech company’s leadership in developing an environment that truly values space, emphasizing the importance of a “fun” workplace in attracting and retaining the best and brightest. Arguably, some of the things they’re best known for, ping pong tables and slides, haven’t always panned out. But that’s okay. For companies, it’s important to try new things. It’s about figuring out what’s right for your business and culture, not trying to copy the tech giant. Attempts at innovation and change show an investment in people – and that is what matters. Change and innovation help tap into employee’s imagination, creativity, and curiosity, pushing them to pursue innovative solutions for an organization’s on-going success.

The Nourishment Bar at Steelcase University offers snacks, specialty coffee, and place for workers to socialize.


Co-working spaces first started popping up in the mid-1990s. Their popularity soared during the recent recession when Millennials, who were looking to enter the workforce for the first time, found traditional employment rare and difficult to obtain. As the pendulum has swung the other direction, where top tier employees are difficult to hire and retain, the freedom and flexibility that came with co-working spaces is now in competition with more traditional work environments. It’s one of the reasons we’re seeing a mirroring of these spaces in the workplace market.

MLive’s downtown office in Grand Rapids features a large co-working area that mirrors the media’s collaborative approach to journalism.


Culture has become an important factor for younger generations as they make decisions about where to work. The line between work and home continue to blur and a job is no longer just a job. It about what you do and who you work with that matters. While space can certainly support and reflect culture, it’s about so much more. Authenticity and the freedom to be genuine are key in achieving a cultural fit for employees.

“Authenticity and the freedom to be genuine are key in achieving a cultural fit for employees.”


Over the past decade, employers have really come to understand the importance of physical well-being and its effect on the happiness and productivity of employees. But what about emotional wellbeing? As office space has moved to being more open it has decreased the opportunity for quiet, concentrative, heads down work. The level of distraction can be high which has led to a balance of appropriate spaces and programs to offer a meaningful and productive work environment. Social gathering spaces with access to daylight and views have offered a means of refresh, respite and renewal.

MetLife’s retail headquarters offer employees a variety of spaces that support different ways of working. The shared kitchen offers areas for larger connections and smaller, more intimate discussions.


Workplace trends continue to evolve and their influence can change between one organization and another. It’s important to remember the role authenticity can play in success. Being true to your company values and mission will help guide you as determine which trends are most important to you and your employees.