New Tech Workplace Takes Center Stage
by ERIC LINEBARGER
Nowhere is the rapid pace of change more apparent than in the tech sector. Fierce competition for talent, an evolving regulatory environment, and mounting privacy and data security challenges confront both well-established tech leaders and startups, forcing them to continuously adapt and innovate.
Companies that succeed in this hyper-competitive market have two things in common: workforces and workspaces that can pivot to address new demands and business models. In a recent report titled “HOK Forward: Tech Workplace Takes Center Stage,” HOK explored the impact tech industry challenges are having on the office space and examined design solutions that can make these spaces more responsive and successful.
The report found that workplace flexibility is key when it comes to spurring innovation and collaboration. So too is personalization. Each company’s ideal environment should reflect its culture, work style, mobility profiles, and business goals and be continually reevaluated as the organization grows.
Five workplace trends that are gaining popularity in the tech sector include: Activity- Based Workplaces (ABW) – This office concept encourages movement and empowers people to select the right space for the job at hand. ABW environments are typically designed to serve four major work functions: solo work, collaboration, learning, and socializing and rejuvenation. These spaces work nicely for organizations that are marketoriented in organizational structure.
Neighborhood-Based Choice Environments (NCE) – A variation of the ABW model, these spaces create a neighborhood or home for teams to operate out of while still allowing people to have access to a variety of work settings. These spaces are ideal for organizations that are team-based and mobile but still seeking to build community.
Agile Environments – Scrum spaces where project-based teams from different business groups or departments can gather to collaborate on special projects. These spaces are helpful for team-based organizations that desire belonging and community, because they are highly interactive and collaborative.
Maker Environments for Mobile Occupants (MEMO) – These spaces are emerging in sectors where rapid development is key. They encourage experimentation and group work in entrepreneurial environments with flat organizational structures.
Immersive Environments – These spaces pull the best lessons learned from ABW, NCE, agile environments, and MEMO and tailor them to meet the specific needs of a company to create custom spaces.
These creative approaches meld the needs of an evolving workforce with the needs of the organization. But attracting talent extends far beyond the work styles accommodated. So, how can tomorrow’s tech workplace attract and retain top talent?
Here in Kansas City, AREA Real Estate Advisors is collaborating with HOK, JE Dunn, and Somera Road to reimagine City Center Square into Lightwell – a new destination for the tech and creative workforce of tomorrow. The focus on flexibility and personalization is shaping the space, attracting tenants like WeWork and ensuring Class A office space for companies in the heart of downtown.
In addition to personalization, amenities play a critical role. Amenity offerings should be diverse and speak to the culture of an organization. Nap pods, wellness rooms, medical clinics, and maker spaces are benefits gaining popularity in the tech industry and beyond. These amenities speak to a workforce that values convenience, works hard, and finds inspiration in unique ways.
Smart workplaces are gaining popularity in the technology sector. Complete with multiple sensors that track office use – such as how often a space is used and the peak times of activity within a communal space – this advanced technology can help building owners and operators optimize a space and better understand which kinds of environments are in demand.
In addition to leveraging data, tech workplaces are on the cusp of merging the digital realm with physical space. This move toward seamless technology that anticipates behavior and needs and creates immersive experiences has the potential to transform the work experience. At the center of this evolution should be a commitment to engaging, equipping, and empowering individuals to excel, which requires developing flexible, technologyinfused space solutions that accommodate a growing diversity of work styles, preferences, and personalities.
The tech industry’s increased focus on the human experience – from amenities to immersive technology – can be applied to workplaces in other sectors. While the next big technological advancement isn’t set in stone, one thing is certain: Companies that wish to remain competitive and responsive in the future will need workplaces with the flexibility and personalization that allow their people to gather, connect, innovate, and simply be their best.