Workplace Predictions for 2018 (and beyond)

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Chair of the Month

Melissa Marsh
Melissa Marsh
I am a passionate practitioner of Workplace Strategy and a leader in Change Management services. By combining social science research with architectural expertise, I recommend evidence-based interventions that promote both individual wellness and business success through a more responsive built environment. In addition to working with clients across North America and Europe, I have contributed to courses for CoreNet and WORKTECH, spearheaded international learning and technology initiatives, and lectured at UVA, Cornell, and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

As the year draws to a close, we asked our friends at PLASTARC to share their top predictions for the workplace in 2018 and beyond. Here’s what they had to say:


Claire Rowell, Workplace Anthropologist:

HR and RE will increasingly coalesce

#Restructuring for #Experience

Space will be increasingly regarded as a tool for corporate learning. The facilities management and corporate real estate disciplines will co-evolve to encompass organizational design, human resources information systems (HRIS), and people analytics concerns. We could see workplace services fall under the purview of “people & culture teams” (formerly HR teams) in the even nearer future.

Jonah Bleckner, Sociospatial Analyst:

ABW & workplace-as-a-service will gain more traction

#Outsourcing ~ #RiskMitigation ~ #Collaboration ~ #NoOneIsExempt

There will continue to be a shift toward co-working and flexible office space in the real estate market. Between changes to FASB [Financial Accounting Standards Board] regulations and agility ranking as a top priority for many organizations, more and more corporate occupiers will turn to co-working operators to provide them with workplace-as-a-service.

From unexpected industries (like the legal sector) to traditional cultures (like Japan and Mexico), the scales will finally tip toward new models of workplace. There will still be some private offices, but in general workplaces will be designed to better foster community and collaboration through typologies like activity-based working (ABW).


Cassie Hackel, Sociospatial Analyst:

Workplace will extend into neighborhoods & cities

#LocationLocationLocation ~ #MillenialsGrowupAndMoveout

For better or worse, companies will be looking to shape the neighborhoods and cities around them to be an extension of their brand, goals, and workplace. The nationwide Amazon RFP and Silicon Valley offices supplementing municipal transit in the Bay Area with their own shuttles are two big examples. More and more, we’ll see urban fabric acting like a feature of workplace, and companies will be racing to offer place-based perks to employees while trying to get perks from cities themselves. As a function of this, we’ll see public-private partnerships and advertising arrangements (like the corporate branding on public transit and infrastructure projects we have already) only gaining in popularity.


Kristin Mueller, Design Analyst:

Co-working will become a business strategy


The popularity of co-working has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade for many reasons, including the space and cost flexibility it offers fledgling companies, the ease its serviced office model provides, and the enlivening diversity it supports when companies in different sectors sign up to share the same space. In the near future, we’ll start to see a complement to the latter as companies catch on to the increased potential for knowledge sharing and business partnerships afforded by colocating with same-sector organizations. Corporate occupiers will begin to shop for co-working spaces that can offer them the business value of cross-company interaction within their sectors, on top of all the other benefits co-working provides.

Simeon Busano, Design Strategist:

Connectivity will wax, colocation will wane


Improvements in technology coupled with Western immigration policies will usher in an area of greater corporate communications agility. We will see only more and more connectivity and collaboration between people who work together but are not located in the same geographic location. Our client Unity is already doing this by design, and they treat it as a feature of their organization, not a liability!

Varis Niwatsakul, Design Analyst:

Great workplaces will educate and excite—as well as innovate

#UX ~ #InvestInPeople ~ #LoveMyOffice

Organizations will shift from focusing on utility (what people need to get their job done) to experience (how people feel when they’re getting their job done). Companies will start to understand the business value of engaging employees in meaningful experiences outside of meetings and conferences and offer them more activities that affect their holistic and long-term satisfaction, development, and happiness—think enriching workshops and classes. This shift will ultimately change the relationship between worker and workplace, as employees will come to see their office as a hospitable, educational, and socially minded place where they want to be—not just where they need to go to get paid. As companies align their goals with workers’ interests, employees will more feel more motivated to invest in their organization’s success. Top workplaces will be known as sites of education and recreation as well as innovation!


Melissa Marsh, Founder & Executive Director:

Tech will support humans—not vice-versa

#Multisensory ~ #Tech ~ #Wellness

Knowledge workers—not machines—are the economic drivers of the 21st century. Workplaces will catch up to this fact and begin to employ a combination of multisensory design (places and experiences crafted to please one or more of our five senses) and new technologies (from smart building sensors to personal activity trackers) to create work spaces that actually support, rather than stifle, human well-being.

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