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Tech Meta Trends of 2016: The Heart of Workplace Today

Image © Gensler

Editor’s note: this blog is part of a series on 2016 tech trends.

For the foreseeable future, technology will remain a driving force in our economy. It’s changed the way we approach the world, our lives and our communities. It’s a state of mind – a creative lifestyle based on personal storytelling with a community conscious. As designers for the tech industry, we know the process can be like designing for mental athletes – performance matters, and every day is a journey of achievement. So what kind of spaces help these individuals continue to shape the future?

In our quest to answer this question and to improve the daily experiences for those working in tech, we began to look at the attitudes and themes affecting current and future tech workplaces. Through our research, we are seeing three meta trends develop that capture the tech industry’s workplace of today and tomorrow:

  • Deliberately Experiential: Curating spaces for the individual. Making emotional connections with the space, enhancing the environment and embracing alternative work environments.
  • Simply Refined: Creating pride of place through the artful expression of a company’s identity. The workspace inspires individuals to keep dreaming and represents the lifestyle that they are creating.
  • Socially Conscious: Connecting to the larger community. The desire to feel a sense of shared purpose, an alignment of values between individual and firm.

We’ve taken a deep dive into each of these meta trends and invite you to read on for a more in-depth look at how they are influencing the tech workplace today. Next week, we kick off our summer series and take a look at the 12 trends emerging within each of the meta trends. First up, we will discuss the role Metrics Driven Design, and Devices and Digital Systems are playing in shaping current and future tech workplaces. Stay tuned!

It’s all about the journey. Spaces designed to offer choice, emotional connection, and anticipate needs allow tech employees to self-curate their day. Image © Gensler

Deliberately Experiential

Deliberately Experiential is about the personal journey we take each day at work. It’s about making emotional connections with the space, enhancing the environment and embracing alternative work environments. These spaces are more curated, and it’s all about the individual experience.

Your culture is the story that everyone writes together. A sensory workplace can motivate staff to participate in your culture. Create emotional connections through immersive, interactive experiences that engage the senses and communicate your values. These spaces are memory makers that encourage return visits to experience the space one more time.

People aren’t one-size-fits-all. So why should your workspace be? The goal is to take what’s good about a private office and combine it with the best of open plan to create an individualized experience. Start with the basics: light-filled natural spaces, amenities to enhance wellness and comfort, and a variety of spaces where one can focus, collaborate, learn and socialize. It’s worth doing – happy, healthy people get stuff done.

We’re in AWE of your employees. However long you agonize over getting your workplace right, understand that needs will change, and you’ll be looking for Alternative Work Environments. So go ahead and embrace it. Alternative settings should align with your values, whether that’s work-life balance, saving space or an epic employee experience. Spaces that let each employee self-curate their day aren’t even an alternative anymore – they are a must-have for top performing companies. But we still like the AWE part.

A strong identity creates pride of place. Tech innovators want the boldness of what they are doing in the world to be expressed in the boldness and refinement of their space. Image © Gensler

Simply Refined

Part of leading the world in technology is having a workplace that creatively reflects the uniqueness of your ideas. Data and research ensures that the space makes you most productive, while the beauty that surrounds you should inspire your next big idea. A refined workspace is an extension of your brand and the setting for your lifestyle. This is the aspect of workplace design where art & science come together to create an impactful and purposeful space.

My work, my life. As tech companies cultivate a service mentality toward their employees as well as their customers, offices are being re-imagined as hospitality destinations with a refined, concierge attitude. Employees want to work in the same level of sophistication where they live and play.

Legitimate, trustworthy and pure. That’s what authentic means. Have you noticed that people and brands with strong identities always have a loyal following? It’s no different with places. A strong, authentic identity creates pride of place and makes the difference between “I have to go there” and “I want to go there.” Give your employees something that’s authentic through an artful expression of brand anchored by the scientific detail of your work process. They’ll feel it’s authentically them, as well.

Where do you want to take the world? Tech has come of age. No longer the playful rebels of the corporate world, tech companies are running the economy, and these innovators want the boldness of what they are doing in the world to be expressed in the boldness of their space. How do you want to express your unique culture and leadership?

Millennials want to work for a company with a shared purpose and culture that’s expressed in the space where they live and work. Image © Gensler

Socially Conscious

Everyone wants to feel a sense of shared purpose no matter where they are, and they will seek out companies who are conscious of their place in the larger community. Being socially conscious in the workplace is about getting above the values written on the wall. It’s about living the mission. Being socially conscious is not only about the world and community in which we work, it’s also about a healthy environment for the individual.

An invitation to participate. Once a fortress of solitude, tech campuses are now opening the doors and inviting the community into their workspace through co-working, shared amenities, and team-ups with non-profits. With each generation, we are seeing a greater need to give back. Tech companies today are not just motivated by pride in their brand, but pride in being part of a larger local tribe.

What’s beyond the fitness center? Wellness for the whole human being.
  • Physical Wellness – fitness centers, healthy food choices and access to nature
  • Social Wellness – an environment that promotes healthy working relationships
  • Mental Wellness – educational activities on campus, such as teaching kitchens
  • Emotional Wellness – an environment that encourages communication and self-expression
  • Spiritual Wellness – the space that calms the mind and soul, regardless of religion

It’s not where you work, it’s where you achieve. There’s a shift happening, and not surprisingly, it’s being led by millennials. Creative workers are looking for shared purpose, not just a promotion. They want to work for a company with a strong mission and culture that’s expressed in the space where they live and work.

Natalie Engels re-imagines the workplace experience. A Design Director and regional leader of Gensler’s Technology practice, Natalie teams with clients to improve their business by designing for the workforce of the future; helping to attract and keep the next generation of employees. Contact her at natalie_engels@gensler.com.
Tana Hall helps clients - both internal and external - shape their strategies and communications. She’s Gensler’s Northwest Regional Marketing Director and is obsessed with how space can help tech firms innovate. Contact her at tana_hall@gensler.com.