Progressive companies need to look to the future when designing workplaces, in order to reflect the needs of a constantly changing workforce.

To explore these concepts, DesignBUILD 2018 will bring together an expert panel to explore international trends and how design and construction can adapt to emergent shifts in workplace creation.

Panellist Nick Travers, co-founder and director at Technē Architecture and Interior Design, says a modern office is now a key part of every competitive company’s offering.

“Quality workplace design is now a non-negotiable. To attract new talent, any business needs to ensure its offices are a place that empowers workers and creates a sense of personality that reflects company philosophy,” says Travers.

“Workplaces of the future will have to satisfy the increasing need for spaces that encourage wellness and innovation, as well as changing work styles. Because the modern worker is mobile rather than confined to their desk, design plays an important role in creating flexible spaces that can be used in multiple ways.”

Travers will be joined on the panel by Anneke Thompson of Colliers International, CoreLogic commercial research analyst Eliza Owen, Des Smith of Deakin University and Tim Philips from industrial designers TILT.

Thompson is national director of research at Colliers International and manages the production of the company’s Research and Forecast Reports, which includes an incisive annual report on commercial property trends.

Colliers has identified five major trends shaping office design in 2018: flexible fitouts (including coworking spaces and serviced offices) will see wider adoption; high-end security and safety measures including biometric identification; the rise of smart buildings that respond to their occupants’ needs; a continuing shift to activity-based working for more mobile workforces; and an emphasis on placemaking to make workspaces more attractive to employees.

Intriguingly, coworking is about to broaden out from the hipster enclaves it’s so far been limited to, Colliers has predicted.

 “We expect to see coworking providers starting to target major corporates, rather than focusing on start-ups,” Thompson says.

As flexible spaces go mainstream they are also moving towards more traditional long- term office leases, providing greater stability for both design and business planning. Since 2013 the average term for these types of space has already doubled, to 24 months.

“Design improves the workplace by allowing for new technologies and multiple modes of communication. Spaces need to be highly functional to support both collaborative and solo work modes,” he says.

Placemaking is another important trend expected to gain momentum in the next few years, one meaning that workers now need to be actively enticed to come to work.

“Given the rise in mobile technology, people now have a choice of working in a physical place of work, a coworking space, working at home or other third spaces. There will need to be a compelling reason for people to come to a workplace to physically perform their work duties,” Thompson says.

The panel ‘Future-Proofing Commercial Buildings’ takes place at DesignBUILD 2018, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, on Thursday 3 May at 12pm.