TechoCon 2017 - The Workplace of the Future

The biggest challenge of the future? Flexibility!

A day crammed with lectures and presentations of new ideas and products - this was TechoCon, a conference for industry professionals held in the TECHO showroom. During the day hundreds of visitors passed through the doors into the inspiring environment of the company’s Prague showroom. Visitors comprised interior designers, architects, real estate experts and representatives of Czech and foreign companies. They came to be informed about the latest developments in interior design, ergonomics, acoustics and the integration of new technologies. Representatives of the following brands presented their visions for the future:  Ahrend, Gispen, deberennDémos, EGGER, Rim, Janků Podlahy, Ecophon, Humanscale, Bachmann, 720°, VRgineers, , and also independent experts in town planning, the real estate market and innovation. The day-long programme culminated in a talk by Jason Harper from Google, a firm leading the way in workplace innovation. Here we give you an overview of the main ideas that came out of this innovative conference.

The shift from green to blue buildings

A common denominator of the individual lectures and new product presentations was flexibility. The rapid development of technology has over the past century change our workplace out of all recognition, and everyone must respond to these changes – company owners, furniture producers and designers. Architect, real estate manager and town planner Tomáš Ctibor was able to provide a greater understanding of the changes taking place today. He is founder of the innovative collaborative platform 4ct, which focuses on project planning in urban environments. 

We are living in a wireless world

According to Tomáš Ctibor our century will be dominated in all aspects by two basic principles – wireless communication and the exponential growth of the capabilities of new technology. Our only option is to anticipate as early as possible the changes that these developments bring and then contemplate how to approach the design of our workplaces taking into account our future demands. 

Blue is the new green

Office buildings will no longer be designed for a single purpose, but they should act as frameworks which during their lifetime can be adjusted and fitted out several times to suit new functional requirements. Abroad the first building termed “blue buildings” are springing up. They are basically a continuation of the "green building" certification. However, they do not just take into account the energy efficiency of the building, but also the entire sustainability during the life of the building, also from a social and cultural perspective.

Tomáš Ctibor
FRICS, CRE

We will get used to the fact that buildings will not be constructed to last centuries, or even decades; they will change their method of use over their life.

Workspace flexibility

Who better to predict our future than the company that on the global scale is directly influencing it? Google has for some time now been leading the way in the design of innovative workplace environments. Keynote speaker at TechoCon, Jason Harper, Real Estate Project Executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa, is responsible with his team for the creation of new office premises for this continually growing company. However, even he has no easy answer to the question of what the office of the future will look like: People and their needs are changing and the workplace must adapt to accommodate them. For Google too flexibility is, according to Jason, the greatest challenge for the future. 

“Smartphones have not been with us for ten years and look how they have managed to change our lives and the ways in which we work and have fun,” says Jason Harper of Google in conversation with Šimon Opekar of TECHO.

During his talk he discussed some of the principles and methods that his company uses when setting up new offices. We can draw inspiration from the method in which Google creates comfortable and effective environments with the aid of data and feedback gathered from employees. 

Use. Maintain. Recycle. Repeat.

Gispen became well-known soon after it was established by Willem Hendrik Gispen thanks to the design of lights and metal furniture inspired by functionalism, which are still sought after today. Even after a hundred years of existence this Dutch company is still able to surprise with new ideas.

Circular economy

Gispen sees a practical solution to the growing demands for flexibility of the workplace environment in the application of the "circular economy" principle. This is based on a simple premise. Office furniture becomes out of date in terms of function and appearance long before it reaches the end of its useful life. What’s more, no one today can say what the office will look like five years ahead. Take, for example, a cabinet for storing files. This item of furniture until recently was present in every office, but today it is mostly a waste of space. Gispen will purchase this unwanted piece of furniture from you and create from it a now popular sound insulated module; the plastic tambour doors are used to produce granulate which might be used to print your new sofa from a 3D printer. Thanks to this you don’t need to look for complex and costly solutions to the changing needs of your company. At the same time the circular economy contributes significantly to reducing the production of greenhouse gasses. According to Sarah Schiffer of Gispen the entire process can be repeated, depending on the type of furniture and material, five to ten times.

Learn about the basic principle of the circular economy.

It is time to start looking at the workplace environment through the eyes of employees

More and more we’re living in an experience-based society. But what does this mean for the workplace? This is the question with which Eduard Forejt, Business Development Director & Head of Office Agency at JLL, launched his presentation.

According to scientific surveys a critical factor for employee productivity is how happy and satisfied employees are. Economists have determined that employees who are happy in their work environment are 12% more productive. This is also confirmed by Marc Jambert, Facilities Project Manager, Bla Bla Car, who says that young people no longer want a boring professional life!

The fight for talent

What does this mean in practice? That companies must, in this fight for talent and as part of efforts to increase productivity, completely switch their point of view and look at the world through the eyes of their employees. If you still think that your future employee is only interested in salary level and a company car then think again. The new generation has completely different priorities, and the opinions of employees are playing an ever greater role in the strategy for planning and laying out office space, according to Eduard Forejt. He backs up his opinion with the results from one first and largest surveys performed in the Czech Republic. This survey of 1400 employees in the Czech Republic indicates that companies offering a well-located premises with a pleasant and effectively laid out workplace environment are more likely to succeed in the fight for talent.

Eduard Forejt
Business Development Director at JLL

The vast majority of people in the survey confirmed that a company with a well-designed office is more attractive for a potential employee. In addition, three quarters of respondents considering changing employer would like to see their future office before signing an employment contract.

The factors that employees say will best improve work productivity

93%
A comfortable workplace
87%
Sufficient daylight
83%
Good climate control
74%
Coffee, tea, and soft drinks free of charge

Start today

It is becoming clearer that engaging employees in the creation of a future workplace helps to ensure a better result – a more pleasant office that promotes productivity. Such office incorporates a pleasant and flexible work environment that can accommodate the various activities that employees undertake during a day. It is just necessary to take this new situation on board. New technologies and the experience of developers and consulting firms already means that it is possible to create an ideal workplace tailor made to the requirements of a given company. 

The future of presenting new office space

The goal of VRgineers, according to CEO Marek Polčák, is to tear down the barriers to using virtual reality in a professional environment. The crystal-clear imaging allows car designers to accelerate the development of a new prototype, pilots to realistically simulate a cockpit environment, or architects to fine-tune the smallest details of a future workplace. Visitors to this year’s TechoCon had a unique opportunity to try out the special high-definition glasses that this Czech start-up company with global ambitions is producing and selling almost exclusively in export markets.

What they are saying about TechoCon

Klára Frkousová
CPI Group

TechoCon was an excellent opportunity to meet in an inspiring environment with new trends and above all inspiring people; I look forward to next year’s event.

Karel Matějka
Designer

I enjoyed the interviews with the experts - Jason Harper of Google and Jiří Kejval of TECHO. Also very interesting was the presentation of the JLL survey result. I will probably not be the only one using figures from this survey in discussions with clients.

TechoCon 2018 is coming. Stay up to date!

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