The smart, flexible
Technology, generational preference, and an embrace
of change will define the office today and tomorrow.
BY HELEN REED AND ANGIE LEE
Almost a hundred years ago, the world of work was shifting radically as Americans became city dwellers, automobile owners, and office workers. Today, we’re amid anther dramatic upheaval in work. A new generation of workers who have grown up with digital technology—using computers online for their entire adult lives—are stepping into the working world, and a new set of expectations and preferences is emerging and reshaping the office. Technology is pushing innovation in the workplace. But its consequences are still emerging—making it worthwhile to periodically evaluate the trends shaping the new office.
Flexibility for a workplace that’s always evolving
Designing a future-ready and flexible facility is more important than ever in this time of change. The office must be designed to be flexible so that it can change for daily and weekly needs with built-in adaptability over the long-term. Increasingly, we need to be aware that things change in unpredictable ways and the influence of technology, for example, doesn’t resolve as it first presents. For example, not long ago it seemed that desktops and monitors were going away, but now massive monitors are emerging as the preference. Despite the availability of small portable technology, big screens are in.
Culture and data-driven design
There have been many articles published over the past couple of years on the pros and cons of open workspace. The only point of clarity from that raging debate is that open office isn’t for everyone. It’s important to understand what organizations do, how their employees like to work, and what makes them happy doing it. More than ever, observation and research of the workplace on site must inform our design innovations so that the workplace ultimately reflects the client’s culture and supports its business strategy. Design must strike a delicate balance between incorporating existing culture while embracing new ways of working. Furthermore, how we educate our clients to best use their spaces (otherwise known as change management) is critical in matching culture and new workplace.
The one constant in
the workplace is
Branding throughout the office, not just the entryway and lobby, is emerging as a key aspect of office design. That’s because the audience for branding can be both internal or external today. Every client has a past, present, and future, as well as heritage, culture and values. As design professionals they look to us to help create a space and brand that reflects their narrative best. In our tech-enabled era, experiencing the brand itself takes an increasingly important role in reflecting culture, mission and morale, giving people reasons to want to come into the office every day and to connect their individual work to a greater purpose.
Homelike and hospitality-inspired options
The tech industry and its open, collaborative offices changed the way we look at offices. But it’s the emergence of the homelike and hospitality-inspired elements of workplace that are defining design today. A big part of this shift relates to offering a variety of options in seating and work style ranging from formal and informal collaborative to focused and heads-down and private meeting space.
Smart buildings, smart office
The smart office and building. Smart spaces will connect to users through seamless tech and apps—everything from room reservations to audio-video conferencing, desk and room reservations, climate control and lighting, elevator access and security will be intelligent and personalized for the user.
But smart building benefits go beyond the individual employee. On the owner and employer side, detailed data on building and room use allows for better decision making about investment and office design going forward. And that means continuous evolution and improvement in design and operation.
And when design automation connects into smart building infrastructure, the possibilities for the future of workplace are unlimited.
Now that makes for an interesting future.
Smart buildings technology is here to stay.
One of the most tangible benefits of smart technology is reduced energy use (or production) with sensor data informing operators and users about building efficiency and use. But smart buildings can do more. They can also foster connections with people in the workplace to provide a better user-experience.
You enter the building after parking your bike or car in a space reserved prior to arrival. The building senses your presence via an app on your smart device. At the elevator lobby, an elevator is waiting to take you to the location of your morning meeting. In the meeting room, the blinds are drawn, the room temperature is set to your preference, and the audio-visual and video conferencing set up is enabled and your clients in New York, London or Beijing are ready to greet you and start the meeting. After your meeting you return to an office or a workstation, whether it’s assigned or unassigned, and your personalized desk height, lighting and thermal comfort settings are pre-set. This technology-enabled exper-ience can also be programmed for clients and guests on their next visit. The office of the future. Seamless. Personalized. Smart.
MORE WORKPLACE DESIGN
Interior Designer Helen Reed, based in San Francisco, is passionate about applying influences from the digital realm to designing spaces that meet today’s corporate workplace needs. Chicago-based Angie Lee applies three decades of experience in leading teams on workplace strategy and headquarters design solutions to her
role with the Stantec's Commercial Workplace Sector.
Spend one dollar to save six: coastal resilience
by the numbers
Results from the field
Through our lab partnerships, we can test for more than 60 species using eDNA technology and the species list is growing. Notable studies thus far include the Jefferson salamander, an endangered species in Ontario, and the Atlantic salmon, whose status is endangered in the US and Canada.
In 2017, we tested 10 sites for the Jefferson salamander. 9 out of 10 test sites confirmed historical data of species presence or absence, based on visual surveys in early spring. However, eDNA testing at one site showed that Jefferson salamander was present when past visual surveys indicated that it was absent.
Similarly, we sampled five stream sites for Atlantic salmon in 2018 using eDNA. We didn’t detect Atlantic salmon in the streams; however, we did detect eDNA downstream from our positive field control—a single caged Atlantic salmon—confirming that the tools were working.
Our work has shown that eDNA is delivering on its promise as a fast, cost-effective, sensitive tool for detecting the presence of rare, threatened, and endangered species at low densities in the environment. We have also used eDNA to track invasive species so our clients could plan ahead.
Knowing Means Better Designs
Knowing the environment, you are working in is essential at every stage of a project. In the early design phase, it is essential to get quick accurate results. The results affect the timeline for the design team.
eDNA could be used for scouting out sites for offshore winds or looking at different locations for onshore power lines.
DNA CAN HELP US DETECT WHAT WILDLIFE IS PRESENT AND ADJUST OUR DESIGNS TO PROTECT THESE IMPORTANT SPECIES.
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Rising sea levels. Catastrophic storms. Battered shorelines. What’s the measurable impact of climate change on our coastal communities, and how can we respond?
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