Are Tech Companies Transforming the Workplace?

Posted 8/22/17 by Jonathan Webb in Business

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“What does the office of the future look like?" At KI, we are asked this question all of the time. While many would expect a prescriptive answer that includes the name of one of our worksufaces, the most comfortable task chair and open plan office layouts for days, the answer is really unique to each individual organization.


As a manufacturer we spend our days listening to the needs of our customers. Often times what companies want and need may not necessarily exist within our product portfolio. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in the contract furniture industry. That’s where we get creative, either altering existing products to fit our customer’s requests or developing an entirely new personalized solution.

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No where do we see this more than in the tech industry. We’ve all heard the stories about the indoor slides at Google, ping pong tables, on-site dry cleaners and other enviable amenities at large tech giants. While these perks are all buzzworthy, tech companies still come to KI to fulfill basic workplace needs –  product solutions that support focused, individual work, as well as collaborative work amongst a team.


Why is the tech industry so different than your standard insurance company or banking provider? The answer - the speed of change in the tech world! Tech companies and startups specifically are constantly evolving. Tech is driving the change we’re seeing in the corporate world – software, mobile applications, AI, VR, CRM, CMS, the list goes on and on. Their employees have to be agile, flexible and most importantly, connected. This in turn leads to workplaces that need to be versatile, easily reconfigured and easily integrated with the latest tech resources required to get their jobs done.

As we’ve developed more and more personalized solutions for the tech industry, we wanted to learn about the employees within these organizations. What is unique about tech culture? Do they have work style preferences not typically seen in your average organization? What tools support their engagement and productivity?

We recently concluded a six month study focused on tech companies. KI surveyed nearly 400 people from across the country in the architecture and design community who have worked closely with clients in the tech field. Telephone interviews, surveys and secondary research on tech culture and design led us to some very enlightening data on the personal workplace preferences of tech employees.


Here are three emerging trends that seem to be of highest importance to tech employees:

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You’re probably reading these and saying, “So what, aren’t these things that everyone cares about?” While this is true, we see these trends most quickly affecting workplace design in the tech industry. Do you recall when I mentioned rapid change? Given the nature of their business, tech employees now expect their workplaces to maintain a manageable work/life balance, offer effective wellness programs and options and have cutting edge technology. In order to stay competitive and to keep employees happy and productive the tech industry is seeking out solutions from manufacturers and the A&D community to support these trends.


Our research goes far more in-depth into the drivers of these trends, which I’ll address in future blogs. The takeaway, tech companies are driving change in corporate America. Their workplaces require unique personalized solutions. If you ask me what the office of the future looks like I’d direct you to these innovative companies. What you’re seeing in terms of their workplace design today just may impact your corporate office tomorrow.


If you’re interested in learning more about KI's tech research, I encourage you to contact us to schedule our CEU, “Emerging Space: How the Technology Industry is Driving Workplace Change”.

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Jonathan Webb

About the author: Jonathan Webb

Vice President of Business Jonathan Webb is KI’s Vice President of Business Markets. He leads KI’s strategic business unit, serving the business market. Jonathan studies workplace trends, uncovers product gaps and develops solutions with the KI team. Jonathan takes part in advanced workplace strategies and documents his findings through white papers, articles and other publications. His recent publications, Understanding Active Design: The Rise of Human Sustainability and Collegiate Design: The New Driver for Workplace Design, have put Jonathan in the media spotlight. Partnering with thought leaders like HOK, his publications cover diverse subjects including sit/stand benefits, designing training environments and defining work styles. Jonathan holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh School of Business and is a LEED accredited professional.

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