NeoCon 2017 and the Future of Workspace

We are in the midst of an “office revolution” if you ask editor-in-chief of Business of Furniture and Workplaces magazine Rob Kirkbride.


Allsteel Rise-Bleachable Leather

Kirkbride was asked about industry trends during Neocon 2017 and he remarked that he has never seen a time when things have changed so rapidly or so radically. He believes the impetus behind the change is technology which is altering the way people work.  Not only is technology allowing people to work from anywhere, but, according to Kirkbride, there’s a fundamental shift in management attitude towards this new freedom.

More organizations are allowing and even encouraging employees to work from ‘anywhere’ in an effort to promote creativity, innovation and more meaningful collaboration. Whether it be from a space of choice within an open plan office, or at an off-site location, it’s becoming clear that employees do not have to be tied to their desks all day.

Kirkbride says that the changes are even more far reaching, looking beyond current goals to objectives that seem hard to imagine.  He claims that designers are now looking at designing for a time when humans no longer have to work.  Which raises the question, “If we no longer work, what do we do?”

Right now, however, office furniture designers are focusing on increasing engagement, encouraging collaboration and sparking creativity.  Kirkbride notes that many of the current workspace furniture designs are like “Legos for the office” in that they can be taken apart and reassembled by employees whenever and however they want. It’s a great way to promote spontaneous collaboration without the need to book a special room to accommodate a group, or facilitate a project.

Allsteel Retreat High Back NeoCon2017With virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence at the forefront of office technology development, even the less tech-savvy of us are becoming accustomed to use these as tools to facilitate our work and creativity.  Kirkbride also points out that we are now constantly “connected” and therefore experiencing the latest and most progressive input on a second by second basis.  We’re also connected to each other in ways we’ve never seen before.  Collaboration with someone across the world is just as easy than walking into a colleague’s office in the same building.

If anything was obvious during NeoCon 2017, it was that office furniture manufacturers, like Allsteel, were focused on designing furniture for the new ways we work.  Our CEO, Joan Waters and VP of Business Development, Dean Molz attended the annual trade show and brought back some interesting feedback. Upon his NeoCon return, an impressed Dean shared:

Dean enjoying a Gunlocke Iris Chair

We were delighted to see so many of our colleagues, clients, and friends at this year’s Allsteel and Gunlocke showrooms.   It is always a pleasure to tour these showrooms and see all the latest designs and products.  What was particularly exciting was that Allsteel announced a new partnership with Norman Copenhagen.  The buzz around these new imported products was simply amazing as attendees saw the innovation on offer. 

We were also excited to see that Gunlocke garnered 3 “Golds” in best of NeoCon categories with their Tia bar stools, Tia guest chairs and Calm lounge pieces.

Gunlocke Calm- NeoCon Gold

This year’s NeoCon depicted the concept that work is happening faster and more productively than ever and that there are more similarities today across industries than there are differences.  Whether it’s a tech company or a financial company, you’ll find a similar attitude toward a more relaxed office format where free flow work and collaboration are promoted by the design, layout, furniture and equipment.  Creative “play” spaces are no longer only a Google or Facebook domain (no pun intended). You’ll find them popping up in any organization aiming at creative innovation, no matter how “non-creative” the industry may be!