The design industry can have a hugely positive impact on people and broader business performance by understanding emotional and spatial journeys, and by funnelling this crucial insight into curating workplaces that support the totality of the employee experience.
This was the central theme that emerged from this summer’s Workplace Week New York.
Following a successful six years in the UK, Workplace Week 2018 landed in the States this June. The philanthropic event, which is run by global workplace consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) and supported by the International Facility Management Association Workplace Evolutionaries Group, showcased workplace innovation and creativity, with all proceeds donated to the I Have A Dream Foundation – New York (IHDF-NY).
Big names including Ted Moudis Associates, HOK, Workplace Fabric and Allsteel participated in the week-long programme of fringe events. Experts offered insights into how designers and architects can link space, design and technology to drive a positive and productive workplace culture.
Also marking its Stateside debut between the fringe events was the Workplace Trends conference. Featuring neuroscientists, psychologists and workplace specialists, the impressive speaker line-up offered delegates the chance to become familiar with the latest research, containing the clues to effective, evidence-based design.
Andrew Mawson, the leader of AWA, set out the research that supports the rationale for transitioning to modern ways of working. Arjun Kaicker, from Zaha Hadid Architects, looked at how algorithms and machine learning are creating unprecedented opportunities to design workplaces that enhance wellbeing and performance. Following Neil Usher’s entertaining breakdown of his book, The Elemental Workplace: The 12 Elements for Creating a Fantastic Workplace for Everyone, Leesman’s Tim Oldman took the audience through a data-dive of the world’s largest workplace effectiveness database, which contains more than 300,000 employee responses.
The dynamic programme of events also included a busy schedule of ‘working workplace’ tours across the city. A dozen organisations, including WeWork, Delos Living, Structure Tone, Nickelodeon, Neuberger Berman, Willis Towers Watson and Deloitte, opened their doors to showcase their design and operational strategies. By adopting various approaches to re-energising their workplace and branding stories, the organisations participating in Workplace Week revealed how their design teams had optimised occupant health, wellbeing and performance.
As the pioneer of Wellness Real Estate, DELOS was a stand-out tour. The organisation showcased its workplace at 860 Washington Street, in the heart of New York City’s Meatpacking District. The office, which illustrates how best practice meets the highest building certification standards, features a multifunctional lab space to process wellness data from a network of environmental sensors throughout the space, and an enhanced circadian lighting experience.
Learning from and applying the DELOS insight, Structure Tone’s Manhattan headquarters achieved the first WELL Certification in New York City in the spring of 2017. Designed by Gensler and developed with the health and wellness of employees at its centre, the 82,000 sq ft office space incorporates innovative wellness features and designs throughout to make the space more collaborative and to provide the best opportunities for employees to interact with the built environment.
In November, Workplace Week London will be back for its seventh year. Expanding on the learning from across the Atlantic, the programme will explore how the architecture and design community, in partnership with the real estate, facilities management and human resources spheres, can boost productivity and improve the user experience through being playful with space. w
For more information about this year’s event, visit –