Design in 2018: Global Influencers of Today’s Workplace

By Neil Schneider | Design Director

March 27, 2018

Expectations and Empowerment Anticipate Greater Focus and Performance

More than ever before the workplace is expected to perform at higher levels. The work environment must function socially to bring people together, be inspirational and aspirational for the workforce, and most of all, allow people to do their work.

When we consider the future of the workplace, five global influences are apparent:


HighGround Advisors in Dallas. Photo © Thomas McConnell, icon by The Noun Project.

People want to feel a part of something greater than themselves.What is the company’s purpose; what does it believe in? Work is not just a job; people want to make a difference. Companies are stepping-up to empower the workforce to work harder for a cause. Clients increasingly demand dynamic environments that bring people together and strengthen relationships. The popularity of large community spaces and better communication tools allow staff to share knowledge more freely and understand company drivers.


Virgin Voyages Headquarters in Miami. Photo © Robin Hill, icon by The Noun Project.

When we create a place of purpose, people understand the need to contribute and bring their skills and knowledge to the table. They want to count. We design for inclusiveness to empower staff to share their ideas and experiences with the extended team. Peers need to feel their ideas are heard and respected, no matter what their generation, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or cultural experience.


Gupta Media in Boston. Photo © Robert Benson Photography, icon by The Noun Project.

Creative thought is power in the modern world. Companies need people to think big to meet challenges. But even the best and brightest talent, including companies like Boeing, Google, and Steelcase, need a creative space to flourish. Ideation centers and creative suites are cropping up to help companies facilitate ideation sessions. People have great ideas but sometimes need to get away from the daily business environment and work with neutral facilitators to break the mold of normality and originate innovative concepts.


Confidential client. Icon by The Noun Project.

In our technology enhanced world, user control is key. We are trained to access much of what we want within seconds from our hand held devices—order food, change the temperature, lighting, and music in our homes, etc.—and this is effecting the workplace of tomorrow. We are looking at the same solutions for the work environment. For starters, smart building systems help us reserve space for work and meetings, track movement, adjust lighting/temperature to individual taste, and work better and faster.


Confidential client. Icon by The Noun Project.

Companies need to be deft, able to react quickly to consumer demands, able to change their organizational structure with ease, modify workflow, and adjust teams. We’ve heard this before; it remains critical. When we talk about workplace resilience we mean environments designed for viability over the course of a lease—flexible and adaptable environments for rapid knowledge sharing and action. Hackable, activity based, address free, all are solutions that can help companies meet pressing demands. The challenge is for every company to understand what will work best for its evolution and for designers to create the environment where that can happen.

Neil Schneider, IIDA

Design Director

Design Director and firm Principal Neil Schneider has provided successful design solutions for a variety of Fortune 500 and innovative brands across the globe, including LinkedIn, Dyson, McDonald's, and CNA, to name a few. Neil’s designs are a reflection of his longtime advocacy for translating organizational goals and strategies, as well as external cultural and business influencers, into physical space. As a leader in IA’s Chicago office, he provides mentorship to foster the talents of young designers. Firmwide, Neil helped establish and leads Spark!, IA’s platform for inter-office sharing and innovation.

Want to Learn More?

See how the design trends in the workplace differ from those of retail spaces. Click below to read " Retail Design in 2018: Store Aesthetics, a Shifted Lens."

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Expectations and empowerment anticipate greater focus and performance.

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