Introducing The Next Work Environment Competition




WDM The Next Work Environment Competition

Given the challenges of COVID-19 and the issues it has created for our health, economy, and work spaces, we are looking for innovative ideas to create safe, productive, and comfortable work environments. The goal of this Competition is to consider options for new work environments that may be used by organizations to get people back to work quickly in safe, stress-free and productive spaces.

Our world has changed and as we begin to think about how we re-enter the workplace, there are numerous considerations that must take place. We are seeking creative minds to develop innovative concepts and ideas on how to create the Next Work Environments. We encourage diverse and multidisciplinary teams that cross over different backgrounds and professions.

While this is a design competition, this is not a situation that is limited to design only. For solutions to be effective, we should consider policies, operations, technology solutions and organizational interventions. Participants are urged to consider broad aspects of the work environment for the most beneficial options.

The “Next Work Environment” is meant to define the period when we will be migrating and transitioning back to a non-COVID 19 (we assume that we will conquer this virus) socially interactive condition. Clearly this crisis will impact a generation and new traditions will unfold, but we have an opportunity to reconsider our work environments now and create new spaces that inspire and rejuvenate us.

Important considerations & assumptions

This competition is meant to be a short but focused design charrette and collaborative problem-solving exercise for individuals and small teams based on the following assumptions:

  • We will go back to work in our workplaces
  • Office buildings will be our primary work environment
  • The Coronavirus will remain a short-term lethal threat
  • We need to socialize in order to remain human and exchange ideas.
  • The wellness and safety of people is a priority
  • Current rules and practices for distancing should be respected
  • Good design contributes real value and builds our culture
  • We need solutions that can be incorporated quickly
  • Sustainability is still a necessary consideration
  • The work environment should inspire and rejuvenate people

Who’s Eligible?

The competition is open to participants worldwide from students through retired thinkers. You can participate as an individual or a team. Teams are encouraged to be as diverse as possible and are limited to six individuals.

Here are the categories for submission:

  • Individual (Student)
  • Individual
  • Team 2-6 (Student)
  • Team 2-6
  • Team Sponsored – Branded Team

Design solutions are wide open to your creative skills, research, and knowledge – we encourage new thinking and approaches. While we have defined general categories and some size limitations, those are imposed to maintain a comparative base for  judging. Solutions are encouraged to think beyond design and include multiple disciplines. Technologies should exist, or be within reach, solutions should have the ability to be implemented in the short-term.

Seven categories to choose from:

Each submission must choose one of the following themes:


Ready to submit? Window for submissions: June 8 – July 9, 2020

To enter, prepare and submit:

  • Your contact information including name(s), address, phone number, and email, organization (for sponsored teams only)
  • Selected theme
  • A name for your solution and short paragraph project description
  • A description of the work environment and challenges (300-words max )
  • A description of specific solutions to project challenges (400-words max)
  • Bullet list of any additional features
  • Descriptive 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 Adobe PDF format.
  • Optional video or animation (1 max through link submission, limited to 1 minute)
  • Submissions for the New Change Management Process may include text, charts, diagrams, sketches, etc necessary to convey the process, provided they conform the limitations outlined above.


All submissions must be sent in electronic format, no hard copy submissions to be accepted. The name of your submission should be placed on the lower right-hand corner of all images. Please be sure to remove your name, team, or design/architectural firm name from the images – any visible branding will be subject to disqualification. There is no limit to the number of submissions an individual or team may submit; however, each submission may only be submitted once. All submissions become the property of Work Design Magazine.

Judging Criteria

Judging will be based on the submissions ability to define and express a creative, pleasant, safe and productive work environment. The design should clearly show new types of anti-contagion thinking. Designs may have features that might not be able to be shown, such as anti-microbial surfaces, in such cases, those details may be listed. The following areas will be considered as part of the judging:

  • Innovation
  • Ability to interact with others
  • Aesthetics
  • Cleanliness and ability to clean
  • Comfort
  • Diversity and Inclusiveness
  • Constructability/Ability to Implement Quickly
  • Engineering
  • Health and Safety
  • Supply chain
  • Sustainability
  • Technology
  • Wellbeing & Mindfulness

Jury of Leaders includes:

Salesforce:  Elizabeth Pinkham, EVP Global Real Estate

mindSHIFT:  Rex Miller, Author, Speaker, Wellness Thought Leader

International WELL Building Institute:  Rachel Gutter, President

Netflix:  Keith Donovan, Head of Global Design and Construction

Convene:  Ryan Simonetti, CEO

EYP Architecture & Engineering:  Leigh Stringer, Managing Principal

Under Armour:  Shawn King, Director of Design and Construction

Boston Properties:  Raymond Ritchey, Senior Executive Vice President

Perkins and Will:  Ken Wilson, Co-Global Design Director for Interiors

Humanyze / MIT: Ben Waber, President and Co-Founder

Clive Wilkinson Architects: Clive Wilkinson, President and Design Director

Google, Josh Glynn, Director of Workplace Strategy

Sharon Klotz, Museum Planning & Design

Panel Chairman:  Bob Fox Chairman & Principal of FOX Architects and Founder of Work Design Magazine

Additional jurors to be announced soon! 


Special thanks to our Consultant Advisors on the competition: Mark Strauss, Jennifer Busch, Derek Wood, Kay Sargent and Steve Teubner.



Submissions are judged for suitability of design to the project challenge, and originality of the design solution. The jury reserves the right not to select a winner from the entries submitted. All jury decisions will be final.

Entry Fees

Entry fees are meant to be as low as possible, but are required to cover the cost of conducting the competition. Payment is required at time of submission; Team sponsored / branded teams can enjoy extra visibility now. (see details here)

Students, Unemployed, Retired:
Individual Submission
Team of 2
Team of 3
Team of 4-6
$25 US
$50 US
$75 US
$100 US

Individual Submission
Team of 2-6
Team Sponsored by a Firm or Organization*
$50 US
$250 US
$500 US

*Sponsors will receive additional promotion.

Got a winning idea?

Awards will be presented to the best solutions in each category. Winners to receive award certificate, active promotion in Work Design Magazine and throughout the real estate ecosystem. Honorary Recognition awards will also be selected in given in select categories. Winners will be videotaped presenting their solutions, including comments from the jury. The videos will be done over a video conference and promoted on

Special Video Award: Teams are encouraged to produce a video that describes and creatively explains how they worked and collaborated virtually across platforms. A special award will go to a team that produces the best and most creative video. This is meant to be a homemade, non-professional, video that describes your creative process using your iPhone, GoPro, video app or similar type camera/editing tools – This should not be a professionally shot or edited video. The video can be no longer than 5 minutes.

NEW Deadline to submit: July 9, 2020 by 11:59PM PST

Winners will be announced August 31, 2020

A special thank you to our sponsors: 

Adapting the Open Workplace: Safe and Separate with a higher level of acoustic comfort.
The first and only disinfectable fabric approved by the EPA
Crafting the Now, Near, & Next.


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Special thanks to our Market Partners:  ACT, ASID, BIFMA , CIDQIFMA Foundation, IIDA, WE, GCUG, Allwork, and CIDA.

2022 Competition Partners