The future of office design: takeaways from roundtable discussion

When the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management teamed up with MillerKnoll to run an expert roundtable, some important challenges emerged from a lively discussion

When the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) partnered with MillerKnoll to organise an expert roundtable on the future of office design, the resulting discussion surfaced many of the key issues surrounding the major changes in the workplace that we’ve witnessed in a short space of time.

Joseph White, MillerKnoll’s Director of Design Strategy, commented that ‘we heard first-hand experiences about what’s working, challenges yet to be overcome, and the way different organisations are charting their course into the future’.

A new approach

As Peter Brogan, Head of Research and Insight at the IWFM, observed: ‘We need a new approach to workplace, bringing the space, culture and technology of the workplace together, and enabling people and businesses to work safely, flexible, collaboratively and productively, to provide maximum benefit to the individual, the organisation and wider society.’

Senior workplace leaders who participated in the roundtable were: Patrick O’Farrell of Nationwide; Zoe Humphries, Cushman and Wakefield; Elaine Asal, Gensler; Anna Farrow, Red Hat, Jennifer Kolstad, Ford; Joseph White, MillerKnoll; and Per Hansen, Credit-Suisse.

Key takeaways from the roundtable included the following:

  • Companies were examining future workplaces before the pandemic, but their self-analysis has become deeper and is considering the whole person and what it is to be a person at work.
  • Most companies feel it is still too early to say what the post-pandemic workplace experience will consist of – the process of discovery is ongoing and firms require much guidance on how to get there.
  • Flexibility and choice of where and how they work has become essential for most workers, who can feel strong resentment if choice is restricted.
  • Technology needs to develop towards making real estate business decisions that focus on the needs of the individual.
  • Hybrid working has allowed most companies to retain staff and also widen their talent pool.
  • Home working can present difficult duty-of-care challenges to employers.

Access the roundtable report, ‘The Future of Office Design’, from the IWFM and MillerKnoll here.

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