Tracy Wymer, vice president of workplace research and strategy at Knoll, looked at the year ahead in design in a conversation with Knoll Inspiration at www.knoll.com.

What trends will have the most impact on workplaces in 2016? Wymer said there are three trends worth noting: Hospitality, technology and great design.

--Hospitality

Workplaces are being positioned almost as hotels with really good concierge service. So many businesses have such distributed workforces, and with flex work expanding around the globe, people and content are flowing in and out and through a building at new rates. How do you manage that flow, and how do we attract people to stay? All of a sudden, we see inspiring design and programmatic elements that welcome and keep people in a space, everything from cafes and lounges to company versions of the Ace Hotel lobby. Corporate facilities are exploring how to bring co-working culture in. How do we make the workplace more hospitable, and how do we foster an organization’s culture?

--Technology Networks

We’re just scratching the surface of technology’s potential in the workplace’s social network. We can start to understand individual preferences: where you like to sit, if it’s a free address model, and that you like a flat white coffee. And we can start to communicate these preferences, these networks. So how can visual display show an active network of the workplace, allowing other people to know if you're present and may be available? This information and its communication can help to bring people together who can benefit from being in the same place. It's this kind of 'serendipity' that is so crucial to innovation and creativity. 

--Great Design

Design is taking a more and more central role in the workplace. I come from the Bay Area, where it’s almost a mandate to provide high quality workspace; it's seen as a key support for the kind of creativity, innovation and collaboration that are so critical to Bay Area industries. The value of good design for productivity and innovation is being picked up around the globe and adopted by more and more companies, not just the tech or obviously creative ones. We really need to provide more compelling workspaces, especially as everyone is competing for the same talent. And this means supporting a variety of work styles within the same office.

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