Immersive Planning

From Research to Realization: An Experience-based Workplace

Executive Summary

The workplace today is a mass of blurred boundaries. Driven by changing workstyles, the experience economy and the influence of startup culture, the lines separating the worlds of work, life and play continue to fade.

As group-based work becomes the norm, and companies assemble networks of partners, a singular output emerges. Outcomes are emphasized over process. Group work dominates for good reason. Not only is it the demonstrated linchpin of creativity and productivity, but also it plays a key role in workers’ happiness and satisfaction with their jobs, company and workplace.

Empowered workers move frequently throughout the day to their choice of workspace, using the tools they select and meeting with the team they need, at the time and place they prefer.

As mobility lifts limitations on where work is done, organizations are challenged to create engaging environments that draw workers to the office. In response, the workplace has taken on new life, functioning as a town square-like hub energized by the hum of the occupants. Elements of residential and hospitality design add welcomed comfort for employees who come together to collaborate, connect or need a place to relax, ideate, focus, socialize or otherwise engage. Reduced individual workspace footprints allow companies to provide a greater number of amenities and social spaces, while still maintaining a tight rein on real estate portfolio expenses.

An Experience-based Workplace

Changing dynamics call for a new, “Immersive” workplace planning approach that is as fluid as teams themselves. As workspaces become defined by an individual’s actions rather than job function, the lines between space types diminish; enhancing interaction, inviting connected experiences and radiating a sense of hospitality at every exchange.

Comprised of three fundamental elements— Improvisational, Communal and Dimensional —the model cultivates an environment of dynamic flow, constant movement, meaningful interaction, creative group effort and innovation within a gracious and welcoming setting.

About the Study

To better understand the rapidly evolving nature of work and the challenges organizations face today and in the future, Knoll undertook a series of studies. Our goal: To identify trends of a business environment in flux, and to realize how forces of changing complexity, speed and style were transforming the workplace. We sought to learn how people are working today and the factors that influence the workers’ experience to gain a clearer picture of the spaces and elements required to support and sustain modern work.

  • A four-year longitudinal study began in 2012 with a baseline survey of 40 workplace executives across diverse industries and locations, and observation studies of their corporate workplaces to uncover work trends and ways organizations were planning and allocating space.
  • In 2015 and 2016, we conducted a second phase of research, surveying 110 workplace executives worldwide. We also spoke at length with various workplace experts, interviewing some 40 workplace executives, real estate professionals, architects, designers, leading academics and workplace strategists across three continents.
  • In early 2016, we performed a separate global study of more than 1,400 knowledge workers across 14 countries to determine the relationships of office features and design to work outcomes such as creativity, productivity, happiness, stress and satisfaction. In contrast to the phase one and phase two longitudinal study, in which we surveyed and spoke primarily to workplace executives and planners, this study was designed and conducted to survey the user experience.

This paper is the culmination of this multilayered research initiative and our opportunity to share our insights on a new way of workplace planning.

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