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What does the workplace of the future look like? Denver developers discuss 3 major disruptors

April 29, 2018

By Terra Mazzeo

Autonomous vehicles, office amenities, and Generation Z will greatly impact the place where we spend 8 to 10 hours a day

From looking at the ways transportation shifts will impact office design to balancing the preferences of multiple generations of workers, Stantec’s approach is always to design with the community in mind.

When it comes to the workforce community, we are constantly collaborating with workplace industry thought leaders and furniture manufacturers to determine the best design for spaces and systems.

As part of that effort, members of our team recently led a panel of Denver real estate developers Matt Joblon, Jon Buerge, and Ashley Stiles, and preconstruction specialist Lisa Larence in a discussion of the future of the workplace at Bisnow’s “Workplace Innovation” event.

While the topics varied, the panel became most animated talking about these three shifts coming to the workplace of the (near) future.

“The Base” is a common area that is part of the new BP Lower 48 Headquarters in Denver. The space will open to the Platte River and will feature a bar with a large aspen canopy overhead and local beers on tap, a variety of seating areas, shuffleboard, a fireplace, and 16-foot-long media wall, depicted here.

Cars—planning for the future

Autonomous vehicles are a ubiquitous topic of late, but as the panel pointed out, anyone who is not already planning for them will be left behind. The certainty of a changing transportation landscape is leading Denver developers to different approaches:

  • In his Cherry Creek office building, Matt Joblon is using below-grade parking stackers to minimize the space needed to park cars.
  • In Loveland, Ashley Stiles of McWhinney delivered no on-premise parking to her office tenants. Instead, nearby surface parking is offered on a site which can be redeveloped when future parking demand is eventually reduced.
  • Jon Buerge described a new parking structure his company is developing as a mix between parking structure and filling station—every spot will serve as a charging station for an electric vehicle.

At Stantec, transportation engineers and workplace designers work together under one innovative umbrella. Our interdisciplinary team is already testing real-world research and development around the transportation shifts in cities

Amenities in the workplace

Today’s workforce is increasingly educated about the impact of the built environment on their health and happiness, and their expectations for the work environment are shifting as a result.

There is a greater focus now on invisible assets like air quality, daylighting, and thermal comfort. In order to be competitive today, employers are looking to offer amenities that support a better work/life balance for their employees. Examples include wellness and fitness programs, access to outdoor spaces, the ability for employeese to bring their dog to work, social spaces with food and alcohol, on-site childcare, etc.

We expect that as we move toward an environment that blurs the lines between home and work that perhaps the real measure of success will be the degree to which people don’t want to work from home.

“The Base” is a common area that is part of the new BP Lower 48 Headquarters in Denver. The Base is intended to support the company’s attraction and retention goals. The space will open to the Platte River with large sliding glass Nana Walls and will feature a bar with a large aspen canopy overhead and local beers on tap, a variety of seating areas, shuffleboard, a fireplace, and 16-foot-long media wall.

Generational shifts

Multitasking across multiple devices practically since birth, Generation Z (currently in high school and college now) will begin entering the workforce soon.

Generation Z’s expectation of being able to connect via any device anywhere will impact workplace technology and design, necessitating better and easier integration into all areas of the work environment. While they’re native to online collaboration, they may struggle more with in-person interaction, and unlike millennials, these young people are thought to be characterized by their need for clarity and structure.

The current trend of open, flexible, and ambiguous workplaces may not suit them well. Instead, special spaces for each of the common workplace functions may be required.

New York-based marketing giant Gyro engaged our team of designers to help create a contextual, futuristic design reflective of their brand as well as manifest a cohesive environment that catered to their young, dynamic office.

As these shifts begin to play out, we look forward to continuing the conversation about what the workplace of the future will require. Getting together with developers, contractors, and industry peers to share various perspectives is a great way to grow our collective understanding.

  • Terra Mazzeo

    Terra has more than two decades of experience in the mixed-use, hospitality, multi-family residential, and office sectors.

    Contact Terra
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