CoreNet 2016: Trendspotting

Fulfillment. Empowerment. Kindness. Happiness. Recognition.


By: Lindsay Wilson, RID, Executive Managing Principal | Interiors Sector Leader

Would you immediately have associated these words with a conference focused on Commercial Real Estate? I actually heard these words in multiple sessions at the CoreNet Global Conference a few days ago. Over 2,700 people from 25 countries came together to network, listen and learn about all things Real Estate related. The theme was “The Bigger Picture,” and the sessions varied from User Experience to 21st Century Leadership to Millennials.

What I took away is actually less of a trend and more of a re-focusing in how we understand the impact of the workplace on its occupants. We’ve reached a watershed moment in workplace design; there is (finally) a widely-held understanding that the workplace is an outward reflection of an organization’s culture and values. An organization’s space is an artifact that records how a company thinks, acts, values and yes – how they get work done. The whole thing makes me giddy, because we’ve been passionate about the role of place and its impact on people for a long time.

Creating places where our clients thrive is core to our mission at Corgan. I love the word thrive; not only is it a verb that indicates activity rather than just a state of being, but it is defined as: to prosper, to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.

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Here’s what we know: according to Gallup’s 2012 survey, 70% of US workers are not engaged at work. And the research says that disengaged employees aren’t incredibly productive, collaborative or creative employees. Through the course of several seminars I heard a clear theme about what employees, all employees -- not just the maligned and oft stereotyped millennials, want. They want to be recognized, empowered and connected to the purpose of the work they are doing and the company they are doing it for. Another desire – they want to be happy at work and they want to be treated with kindness. (The nerve, right?) It should come as no surprise that the Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated – is an essential part of Southwest Airline’s often envied company culture.

But what does this mean to the places we are designing with our clients? It means a lot. The workplace can boost our mood with access to natural light and views; it can energize us by allowing us to change our posture or position while we work; it can connect us to our co-workers and provide places to socialize; it can delight us with beautiful places to collaborate. The workplace can be a powerful tool to show employees that they matter; they are worth investing in. This comes through in thoughtful planning, quality materials, user-friendly technology and amenities. Oh, and good coffee. In fact, there were TWO beverage companies at the conference displaying high end coffee makers designed for corporate use.

The great news for our profession is that there is a real need to create workplaces that are unique and authentic reflections of organizations and their leaders. Speaking of leadership, my absolute favorite quote of the conference was, “No amount of free coffee can fix bad leadership.” So, go take a walk around your office and chat. You work with some pretty awesome people. Share a cup of good coffee and tell them how much you appreciate them.

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