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Three Factors Accelerating Change in the Workplace (Part Two)

In a two-part series, IA focuses on three factors that are accelerating change in the workplace. Part one highlights demographics and technology in the workplace. Part two focuses on work-life integration and destination workplaces.

The John Buck Company in Chicago. Photo by Paul Morgan.
The John Buck Company in Chicago. Photo by Paul Morgan.


Not that long ago, segregating work from home life was accepted as a best practice, rooted in the desire to help employees maintain a healthy balance between the two.  In this, it was assumed that we could reconcile the separate demands of each and any crossover would be minimized or eliminated altogether.

In the interim, the cross-winds of technological, cultural, and demographic change continue to accelerate. Our aspirations for work-life segregation, while naive in retrospect, turned out to be in stark contrast to our current state. Rather than achieving balance through separation, the two worlds are, in fact, merging.

The balance vs. integration dichotomy has been recognized for some time, but broad adoption of new workplace models to address the need is just now emerging. Taking the form of workplace policies and spaces, these models recognize the ability of people to be productive in non-traditional work settings.

Co-working spaces are beginning to be differentiated by lifestyle offerings.The Riveter”, a Seattle co-working space provider, focuses on working women and features onsite mother’s rooms, meditation, and yoga, in addition to the variety of popular spaces that co-working providers are known for.

Amazon was one of the first large enterprises to welcome dogs to the workplace Recognizing that its people thrive in an environment that supports their work and lifestyle aspirations, Amazon has invested in spaces and policies that directly support canine companions. What Amazon also knows is that policies that support work-life integration resonate strongly with potential new hires. In other words, work-life-friendly policies are a competitive advantage.

Confidential Client. Photo © Sherman Takata.
Confidential Client. Photo by Sherman Takata.

The overarching trend is clearly away from workplaces that serve only one purpose–performing work. To be sure, efficiency and productivity are and will remain critical. But today’s most successful companies are increasingly those willing to blur—or erase altogether—the boundaries between professional and personal space.

Furthermore, with the increasing adoption of mobility and teleworking policies, many workers opt out of coming into the office—simply because there is nothing compelling them to do otherwise.

The imperative to support work-life integration and entice remote workers back to the office has given rise to the “destination workplace”: one sufficiently attractive to employees that the question of whether or not to work from home (or the library or coffee house) becomes moot.

Spirit Realty Capital in Dallas, TX. Photo by Thomas McConnell.

Destination workplaces are rooted in WELL building practices and often include programs and elements that resonate more as residential or “third place” functions than traditional front-line work space: gyms, lounges, nap rooms, yoga rooms, prayer rooms, and pet-friendly amenities.


Profound demographic, technological, and lifestyle shifts are occurring simultaneously and at an accelerating rate. Technology—and the expectations of the Digital Natives using it—are changing much faster than the real estate market can respond. The role of IA designers and strategists is to position our clients to anticipate and adapt to these changes as flexibly and intelligently as possible.

Look for more on the impacts and influences of demographics, technology, and lifestyle in future posts.




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