The 2021 Next Work Environment Competition

Submissions have closed for 2021 – but stay tuned – winners will be announced the entire month of September!

Reaching Beyond the Pandemic

We have the vaccine, but we’re not in the clear just yet. What’s next for the workplace? Our world has changed and as we rethink the workplace, we have an opportunity to consider how to innovate the physical and sociological environments of where we work.

As creative individuals who live and work in a culturally diverse world, we have the power to change things. Our work environments must attract people to creatively solve the world’s toughest problems in the most advanced places with solutions that inspire and rejuvenate us. Work Design Magazine’s 2021 Next Work Environment Competition is your opportunity to demonstrate your creative genius.

The Competition is intended to create valuable and high performing work environments that are inspiring, diverse and healthy. We are seeking the most disruptive and unexpected ideas.

Focused on design and work environments, the Competition results can be used by organizations to encourage equitable and inclusive engagement to build a common shared and safe work experience.

Submission to the Competition should be extraordinary. We encourage highly diverse and uncommon solutions! They should offer a view of the next iteration of workplaces by providing unique experiences, inspiring diverse thinking, encouraging open-mindedness, and embracing cultural differences.

It is through our differences that our eyes are opened, and we learn new things. Innovation often occurs though unexpected interaction and serendipitous events.

Who’s Eligible?

The competition is open to all creative thinkers of any race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, level of expertise, profession and religious or political beliefs worldwide. Anyone may enter!

You can participate as an individual or a team of up to six individuals. Teams with a diverse composition and cross-design/practice area/discipline, are strongly encouraged.

Why Enter?

You have a chance to positively impact how work gets done. Winning ideas will be celebrated the entire month of September 2021 and beyond through sharing individual and team ideas on Our esteemed Jury may recognize students, work for clients, and futuristic ideas (theoretical work) across all categories. They may also recognize any submission for any reason that demonstrates uncommon thinking and stands out amongst others.

Feeling inspired? Check out our inaugural 2020 winners here!



Office Building
What is the future of office buildings? What does the next office building look like? How might we need to adjust our existing office buildings to meet future needs?

Real Estate Deal
What are some of the most unique and specific deal strategies or lease clauses that encourage and enable the workplace design solutions? How might the tenant landlord relationship shift?

Common Shared Amenities
Are their new amenities? What amenities should support and benefit building tenants as well as the larger community? What is the role of an office building in the community?


What is the next generation of technology, apps, audio- visual, cloud, technology, etc. that would increase productivity, collect data, measure performance, improve collaboration or other supported activity in our workplaces? Is it integrated or does it stand alone? How can technology help us communicate and provide visibility of performance data?

Big Data
The use of AI and Sensors technology. How will the process change? Will the profession evolve with the introduction of AI?


What kind of furnishings will be needed to support work, and enhance our comfort and performance?

New to the World Solutions
What kind of innovations or non-traditional products, elements, or services will enhance the work being performed?


What kind of spaces will foster collaboration and what kind of tools and technology will support human interaction?

We have learned to work remotely which may have permanently changed the way we work. How can companies make spaces and places that will support remote work, part-time work or dynamic teams?

Work From Home
What new solutions will help to improve the Work From Home experience and offer added flexibility?


Hospitality & Food
What kind of places provide a high level of personalized service, amenities, technology and food and may be offered for various size groups. What becomes of the water cooler and coffee bar now?

Culture and Community
What kind of design solutions integrate the artifacts that communicate, promote and reinforce the common shared beliefs and behaviors that bind the individuals to an organization?

Diversity & Inclusion
How can we create a place where it is desirable and comfortable to promote acceptance of a diverse array of cultures, values, beliefs and ideas  – both those that are familiar and unfamiliar? How do we build a spirit of community that is welcoming and inclusive?


Team Performance
How will our workplaces improve human and team performance and drive increased productivity or other organizational performance measures? (Metrics should be stated)

How do you measure productivity or performance? How do you plan/measure for employee choice when making a real estate decision?

Change Management
What are the most effective ways to engage, communicate and manage change across an organization? This can be a product, process, design, technology or other solution that helps manage change for an organization when implementing new workplace strategies and environments.


Metamorphosis and Wellbeing, Sponsored by: 

As the definition of work and where it happens goes through a rapid transformation, how might the power of design help ensure employee wellbeing becomes integrated throughout all levels of an organization?

Mindfulness, Sponsored by:

What kind of environment can adjust our thinking and our mental framework to either relax, perform or engage with others in a meaningful way?

Sustainability, Sponsored by:

What are the options for the environments and places that are net zero, carbon neutral, energy efficient, include sustainable materials, recycled products and ultimately improve the quality of our environment, our planet and our people?


Greatest Impact Award
A jury comprised of our sponsors will select from the top winners from all entry categories and the favorites from our competition jury. This general excellence award is for the one idea with the greatest potential for positive impact.

People’s Choice
The project that receives the most attention on our social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) using the hashtag #WDMPeoplesChoice2021. Three winners will be chosen by:

  • Most likes
  • Most comments
  • Most shares

Each submission should include:

  • Your contact information including name(s), address, phone number, and email.
  • Students must include their graduation year.
  • A name for your solution and if it was done as a client project or is theoretical.
  • A description of specific project or solutions (500-words max).
  • Please be sure to remove your name, team, or design/architectural firm name from the images – any visible branding will be subject to disqualification.
  • Supporting images (up to 10 images max). You have complete discretion on the number, format and choice of visuals submitted. Sketches, plans, axonometric or perspective renderings, photographs, images of 3D models, etc. may be used to convey the specifics of your design.
  • All images must be submitted in JPEG format and must be logo-free.
  • Optional video, TikTok, Instagram Reels, or other animation (linked to submission, 30 seconds preferred • 3-minutes max).
  • In the interest of publishing as many winning entries as possible, all submissions become property of Work Design Magazine. See more details here.

The same submission can be entered in multiple categories. 


Have more questions? Check out our FAQs.

The Jury

Special shoutout to our Technology Partners: Survature and Spacetrics

Pricing Per Submission*:

Students, Unemployed, Retired

  • Individual Submission: $25
  • Team Submission (up to 6 members): $100


  • Individual Submission: $100
  • Team Submission (up to 6 members): $500

NOTE: One idea can be submitted in up to three categories for a small increase in price. See FAQs for details.

A special thank you to our sponsors: 


Thank you to our 2021 Market Partners: Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) • Allwork.SpaceIFMA FoundationACTIIDA

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