At its April 17 luncheon, the OneZone Chamber of Commerce hosted a Workplace of Tomorrow panel on the topic of the workplace environment of the future.
Brian Askins, executive vice president of office services at Colliers International, moderated the panel. Panelists Sam Mishelow, Jeryl Mitsch, Sim Nabors and Michelle Nuckols shared experiences and insights on the future of office design.
Askins provided statistics about employees in the U.S., which included information such as 70 percent of full-time employees feel disengaged at work and 85 percent rated the workplace environment as important, very important or the most important factor in rating work engagement.
A significant topic included technology and its impact on traditional office space, and how it has changed in the past 10 to 15 years.
“There’s been a shift from the real environment to a virtual environment, from typewriters and big cubicles to smaller desks and flat screens,” said Nuckols, a partner at Architects Forum.
Nabors, the principal and director of interior design at Ratio, attributed most of the changes to technology, noting most employees aren’t required to physically be in an office anymore.
When asked about today’s office tools, Mitsch, the president of Mitsch Design, said many are being used to increase collaboration.
“Everyone now is being able to connect to flat screen TVs in a conference setting,” she said. “What we are seeing more and more of is less paper in those meetings to make those kinds of meetings as powerful and collaborative as possible.”
“I would probably add to that that everyone is carrying around a device with them,” Nabors said. “Another big factor as we go forward is we are just starting to see the first of the ‘Z generation’ the technology natives. They have never known a world without this technology at their fingertips, and we will see this demand-increase in skill.”
Nuckols said despite technology allowing people to work on the go and from home, many still want a workplace setting to interact with other people.
“The workplace isn’t going away,” she said. “It’s just changing.”
Mishelow, chief strategy officer for Meyer Najem, said a key component to engaging employees in the workplace is to ask them what they want and by creating different workplaces for different types of employees.
“It’s really all about employee engagement in our firm,” he said. “Each year, we do an employee engagement survey. It’s really important to find out what your employees want. You can’t anticipate what they want unless you ask them. You have to create an environment to hire the best talent and, more importantly, retain the talent you’ve already invested in.”