HOK’s Washington, D.C., studio hosted a Metropolis Think Tank about attracting and retaining employees in the age of Amazon. Metropolis Managing Editor Lisa Allen moderated the discussion, which focused on space fusion and providing flexibility and choice in work environments.
Excerpted from Metropolis Magazine:
At the outset of the panel, designer Stephen Beacham identified crossover trends that blend elements from the hospitality, residential and commercial sectors, the idea being that workers have choice in using the spaces that are right for them. In some places, flexibility means customized furniture solutions that allow for heads-down, quiet work within an otherwise open floor plan. In other contexts, it’s less about reconfiguring space than reframing working habits. “For a lot of our clients, we’re finding that we’re in a fusion period, where it’s not just about one way of working,” said Beacham, HOK’s director of design for interiors. “There are multiple generations and working styles to accommodate, so we have ‘corporate-ality’ and ‘resi-mercial.’”
These different demographics and lifestyles converge to form what Beacham called “agile” work environments.
In Beacham’s thinking, customized solutions that blend aspects of more traditional office environments with those more akin to hospitality reflect a growing desire among employees for inspired workspaces. “Understanding what the core of hospitality is, which is escapism, means providing a type of environment you don’t normally have … and bringing in things that are unexpected,” he said. “Corporate work tends to be very catalog-based: here are five choices, choose one. Hospitality tends to be very bespoke: to really create a unique environment, you have to look beyond the world of the normal.”
As businesses compete for an energized workforce accustomed to a variety of office choices afforded by tech and coworking companies, they’re pushing to provide the kinds of unique environments Beacham references. As the panel showed, investing in office improvements can forestall employee departures for perceived greener pastures. The companies that will successfully attract future employees and retain current ones must begin by deploying tailored environments that emphasize personal choice and flexibility—meeting the demands of an increasingly selective clientele.