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There are three dynamics that are individually changing in the workplace: 1) WHERE we work 2) WHO is working and 3) HOW we are working. But it has been the perfect storm of all three shifts – occurring simultaneously – that has demanded a reconstruction of the traditional office.

The International Interior Design Association [IIDA] conducts an annual industry roundtable and the 2012 discussions explored the intersection of culture, the workplace and social media providing a great deal of insight into the impending changes we must all face. You can find the entire report here and it is well worth the read.

Below are just a few highlights we pulled from the roundtable assessment.




Mobility has untethered us from the desk at work yet we are suddenly tethered to a device that keeps us in touch with work and life, 24/7.

Designers and manufacturers agreed that technology has not only changed the workplace, but the way we work. Employees can and will work from anywhere because they are enabled and empowered by their mobile devices. Wireless Internet and real-time data sharing allows them to communicate seamlessly and be virtually present yet physically remote.

By 2013 there will be nearly 119.7 million mobile workers in the U.S. and with the mobile workforce on the rise there are fewer and fewer employees working in a traditional office. Their new offices are coffee shops, hotels and homes and it doesn’t stop there. Wireless access is everywhere and soon enough that wireless network will be in nearly every public place—connecting us even more.




“Seventy percent of college graduates believe they have the right to work via mobile device(s).”

The Millennial generation is changing the way companies define the work that they do. This is the generation that grew up with technology at their fingertips who have become masters of instant communication and social networking. Designers and manufacturers want to attract the best and brightest employees—and these young workers want not just a great company, but a great company with benefits that gives them ample opportunities to maximize work/life balance. Today’s 20-something wants to go to work to see their coworkers who have turned into friends, they want to work flexible hours in collaborative spaces and gain valuable experience by working with community leaders. Employers are faced with the difficult task of creating workspaces that accommodate the four distinct generations in the world of work.

Companies are paying close attention to the need for flexibility in the widening disparity of work styles, habits and social interaction between the different generations that will lead to new work- places strategies and dynamics.




“There is more cross-over between business and personal; more blurred designation between our professional selves and our personal lives.”

Social media plays an integral role in how people share information, exchange ideas and research content and conversations. It is a tool that allows consumers and clients to get a glimpse of a company’s core—the people, products and values behind it. This opens the door to turn fans into friends and then into followers who then become the ultimate brand advocates who engage in discussions with the company, share posted content and spread the word to their friends.

The value of social media from a personal and professional standpoint has allowed designers to stay connected, seek new opportunities and expand their audience. It has also allowed designers to form their own personalized brand, style and voice.

How have these shifts affected your office?