Jun 20, 2014
THEME: Workplace

At NeoCon 2014, The Future of Work on Display

700 exhibitors. More than 100 seminars. Three days.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Each year we brave the information overload (and excessively long elevator lines) for the inspiration that comes with exciting new workplace products and research. There’s no doubt this is a golden age for workplace design, but what did this year’s NeoCon® introductions reveal about the future of workplace?

Choice rules—and isn’t going anywhere.

Much of what we saw built on last year’s theme of new ways of working–with expanded applications. On display was an array of adaptable furniture and design solutions that respond to how we work now, encompassing all tasks, team sizes, scenarios and postures—from standing to leaning.  Embedded USB and power outlets in a variety of casegoods reinforce the work anywhere philosophy.


Perkins+Will Resource Librarian Paul Slater elaborates: “Zones supporting different types of work are becoming more clearly defined as demand for choice in work location continues to be driven by changing cultures and mobile devices.  Furniture vignettes or nooks representing a relaxed or solo study work zones were popular,” says Slater. Case in point? The buzz around Steelcase’s Susan Cain Quiet Spaces.

We are tired of sitting.

Ergonomic sit-to-stand desks, innovative novelties in the past, were nearly ubiquitous this year.  And for good reason: active design as a part of a broader approach to wellness has gained significant traction this past year. The public is increasingly aware of the benefits of daylight access, better indoor air quality, stairs and standing desks; design solutions that support healthy living can help attract and retain new employees.

We saw a diverse array of standing desk applications, from simple adjustable-height tables, to standing videoconference stations, to models with tech integration. The Stir Kinetic Desk, for example, learns and remembers your patterns and preferences. Movement in the workplace is also supported by a range of choices of where to work. The days of being tethered to one workstation are fading.

Comfortable, crave-able spaces may bring us back to the workplace.  

Is it a hotel lounge or an office reception area? It’s getting hard to tell. “Design language is continuing to trend hospitality for these areas, presenting great opportunities for new design choices,” says Slater.

Once again, texture (more felt!) and warmth dominated, bring a homey, decidedly non-corporate feel to vignettes. Carefully chosen plants, books and other props warmed up spaces filled with sleek but lounge-worthy furniture. Private offices utilized softer seating versus guest traditional chairs. 

As we are mobile and have more choices of where to work (neighborhood coffee shop, anyone?), work is defined more as an activity than a place. Thus, companies may see the need to create crave-able spaces to bring people back as well as recruit new talent. 

  1. Steven Thomas, NCIDQ
    5:21 pm on June 21, 2014 | Reply

    Small rooms with adjustable lighting with soft reclining lounge chairs with soothing music aka “Power Nap” rooms would be a nice trend. Hours spent in front of a computer deserves small 10-15 minutes of regeneration.

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