The New Workplace

It’s no secret that most of us spend the majority of our time at work.  What is lesser known is our workplace environment is experiencing a significant shift.  Today, the most relevant trends that influence the design of office space include:


  • Branding
  • Collaboration
  • Mobile Office
  • Technology

What has made these trends important to office design today?


The Multi-Generational Workforce |

Currently the workplace is a culmination of four generations working together in a highly collaborative environment, all connected by technology and threaded together by the culture and brand of their company.

We’ve heard the various generations referred to as the Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X and our newest group, the Millennials. So how do the generational differences affect our workspace? Each group is distinctive in their own way, individually affecting our office space and how we work as a whole.

Traditionalist (Born in 1927-1945) | Used to conforming, don’t ‘rock the boat’; disciplined, loyal, achievement oriented, and patriotic

Boomers (Born in 1946-1964) | Career driven, competitive, highly ethical, and assertive

Generation X (Born in 1965-1980) | Independent, tech savvy, and results oriented

Millennial (Born in 1981-1995) | Newest members to the work force; optimistic, enthusiastic, team players, environmentally conscious, active in the community

(Retrieved from )

These four distinct generations are comprised of innate characteristics that reflect the environment in which they were raised. Combining the various generations in one workplace where a Traditionalist is working alongside of a Millennial can result in a dynamic environment, making alternative work strategies a necessity.  Possessing an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the generations currently in the work force is an important start to identifying the individual culture and brand of a company.

Branding |

Culture and branding are translated through a company’s marketing and the way in which employees work.  This unique culture and brand are evident in the physical space, as well as in how employees use the space – individually, collaboratively or both. Armed with this information, corporations are investing in obtaining knowledge of how employee culture is integral to functional space requirements. This understanding provides a stronger potential for attracting and retaining the right people who will mesh well with company culture.

Having a clearly defined culture that is represented in the workspace results in employees feeling proud, harmonious and confident in the environment. Taking the recent recession into account, companies are delicately balancing implementing corporate culture and branding through their space to improve employee satisfaction, while streamlining their real estate.  A key trend and component to reevaluating real estate is understanding efficiency and true space requirements.

Collaboration |

In the past, each person was allocated approximately 250 square feet within a corporate office space. Those numbers have been declining and are now closer to 160 square feet, per person.  The decline in required work space is likely due to the increased mobile work force and the necessity to streamline real estate. Workstation sizes are also shrinking from 8’ x 8’ to 6’ x 6’ and seas of high cubicle panels from the past are being replaced by smaller open stations that offer increased collaborative space through informal, flexible meeting spaces.

Mobile Office | Technology

The decrease in individual space needs has been brought on by several factors including the mobile office and technology.  With increased technology, the workforce can connect and work from nearly anywhere. The mobile workforce requires collaborative environments within the office and tends to be a more paperless environment.

Working remotely is not entirely new, but has become increasingly popular in recent years.  Temporary offices can be established in an airport terminal, the local coffee shop or at home, offering significant flexibility. The growth of widespread wi-fi access, smart phones, tablets and laptops are ultimately changing how we work.  As the line between professional and personal blurs, it’s no surprise that work is done from wherever you can connect.

Understanding the trends of today’s work force and developing alternative workplace strategies are vital to those of us working in the commercial real estate industry.  We operate in unique multi-generational environments that are evolving with the introduction of new technology and the desire to identify with a company’s culture and brand. It is this understanding of workplace trends that will attract and retain the right employees and provide them with a space they are proud of. The new work place is a flexible, collaborative, branded environment based on high value design and real estate efficiency.


This article appeared in the CREW San Diego CREW Corner publication.

Tiffany English, CID, LEED AP | Director, Interior Architecture & Design









Tiffany works in Ware Malcomb’s San Diego office and is President-Elect for CREW San Diego.

Contact Tiffany |