- Staples Business Advantage teamed up with Metropolis magazine to introduce the workplace of 2021 and the winners of Tomorrow’s Workplace award, which includes a $7,500 prize. Designs were submitted by architects, designers and students from around the world.
- The winning team consisted of team members from Ethelind Coblin Architect in New York City. The team’s entry, Co-Gen Flex, connects retirees with young professionals, and has work spaces with state-of-the-art technology, a daycare facility, café and courtyard.
- A sampling of other entries showed the 20th century workplace of static, maze-like cubicles could be replaced by portable, inflatable pods that can be set up anywhere, taken down and easily moved as needed. Some designs featured multigenerational and multifunctional themes. Others resembled small communities rather than a tower of closed-in office spaces.
Artist renderings from Ethelind Coblin's winning design showed children in the same space as employees, presumably their parents, perhaps offering inspiration to organizations that are looking to integrate on-site child care into their benefits offerings. One study showed that nearly half of US employees said they would take increased family benefits over increased pay, meaning that workers may be open to such changes.
Employers that don’t have the resources of a large company like GE can look at design concepts such as those presented at Tomorrow’s Workplace for inspiration in redesigning their own workspaces. And that doesn't have to be too advanced: Redesigning floor plans could start with something as basic as eliminating closed-in cubicles.