The Top 10 Trends at NeoCon 2022

Office design is being reimagined after worldwide shutdowns prohibited working from the office. NeoCon is the world’s leading conference in commercial interior design — paving the way for innovative and emerging office design trends.

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The Office – A Pathway to Connectedness, Productivity, and Innovation

I think by now almost everyone has heard the news about Elon Musk requesting all his employees to return to the office or quit. Below are the two emails he sent to his teams in full:

First email:
Subject: Remote work is no longer acceptable

Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers.

If there are particularly exceptional contributors for whom this is impossible, I will review and approve those exceptions directly.

Moreover, the “office” must be a main Tesla office, not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties, for example being responsible for Fremont factory human relations, but having your office be in another state.


Second email:
Subject: To be super clear

Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.

The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence. That is why I lived in the factory so much – so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.

There are of course companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while.

Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in.


This was headline news, and all sorts of op-ed pieces ran with folks chiming in and providing their two cents on the matter. To be honest, I think he said what most all Founders, CEO’s, Presidents, and other C-Suite executives want to say. Get back to the office. But the current wellness culture, the great resignation, and a variety of other factors outside of their control prevent them from saying it. The Great Resignation has led to the Great Resistance, and it has become a battle of wills between senior management and everyone else.

Believe me, I’m the first to beat the ‘Inspire Engagement, Don’t Mandate Attendance’ drum, but I also think he makes some interesting and insightful points. Tesla, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc., and other tech companies did not become the innovative giants they are today by leveraging a remote workforce or by collaborating over Zoom over via a conference call during the pre-internet startup era. We’re seeing that an office is no longer a productivity tool. An office is a connectedness tool.

The office is a way for people to get to know each other and to be able to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences in a way that makes everybody better. It builds trust and Rick Warren once said, “The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but credibility. People must be able to trust you.” Trust builds speed and productivity because it feeds into collaboration, connection, loyalty, and, ultimately – results and innovation.

A workplace leader’s role should not be to control people and stay on top of things or mandate all their staff to be in the office for forty hours a week, but should be to guide, energize and excite their staff. I’m sure there was a time and still are times when Elon and others are energizing and exciting their employees with innovative breakthroughs and ideas, but a lot can be said for having some tact and compassion and meeting people where they’re at and not where you expect/want them to be.

As Ken Blanchard described, “The test of your leadership is not what happens when you’re there, but what happens when you’re not there.” Don’t follow Elon’s lead but instead, be an empathetic and compassionate leader and meet people in the middle and be open to having some flexibility with your teams. Build trust and it will ultimately generate the connectedness, productivity, and innovation we’re all seeking from our workplace environment.

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The New Workplace Ecosystem

Offices are literally the physical heart and soul of a business and there is no better place for casual interactions, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. Leaders understand their inherent value, but right now, they also recognize that they need to reconfigure and, in some cases, redesign their spaces. They need to make them into destinations where people want to come to. These updated spaces need to provide areas for employees to converge, thrive, learn, grow, inspire, innovate, create, and collaborate. Not via Zoom or Teams from a spare room or home office, but together in a physical space.

Convincing remote employees and those working from home (WFH) to return to the office, even just part-time, will be critical for the future success of businesses. In order for this to happen, offices need to become destinations and provide an experience. Places that people get excited about coming into and that they fear missing out (FOMO) if they don’t come into a physical workplace.

The Traditional Office is Changing

The office location, size, design, layout, and how they make us feel are some of the issues that will need to be addressed as we look toward the future. The office is evolving and becoming more agile — it has to! More office workers are expecting flexibility in where they work. Recognizing this coming shift is the easy part. Understanding how workplace strategies need to adjust is the challenge.


Going forward, people want more flexibility, including virtual options and collaboration spaces. Layouts are becoming less focused on individual workstations and trending more toward incorporating cozy, Resimercial design elements with lots of collaborative spaces. There is also an increase in the proliferation of amenities and the incorporation of biophilic elements and access to fresh air. Technology has become even more important and we’re seeing tech-enabled everything along with the prioritization of health and wellness at the forefront of post-pandemic design.

The end result of all of this is the creation of a new future for the workplace – The New Workplace Ecosystem.


By definition, an ecosystem is a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community with its environment. We can think of the New Workplace Ecosystem in much the same way. It will be a suite of places and spaces that provide the best environment for the work being performed. Different workers and teams have various needs for how they work, when they work, and where they work. Thinking through how we work each day reveals how we work best, matching our behaviors and experiences to the places and spaces that support them most effectively.

How It Impacts Traditional Work Styles

There are essentially six styles of work being performed by your employees on any given day, and your workplace should provide spaces that support each of them. Those styles are – research, focus, connection, growth, nurturing, and spaces for meetings. Each style of work is also tied to your furniture along with your desired spatial arrangements. Different companies require different configurations to tailor to their employee’s needs, and the designs incorporated have the ability to foster both connection and community. The result is spaces that are engaging and inspiring, that deliver creative and human-centered solutions, and also support organizational needs while activating the engagement of your team.

Your employees aren’t the same as they were in March 2020, and your office design shouldn’t be either. It’s not as simple as having three work options – remote, hybrid, or in-office workers. Your employees don’t think or work in the same way they did when they left the office, and your layout needs to evolve. Going forward your office needs to be a destination – a collaborative and social hub but with space for private work. It needs to be visually attractive and reflective of your firm’s environmental and social beliefs with a focus on wellbeing. It needs to become an ecosystem that enables productivity and can also be leveraged as a recruitment and retention tool.

The new era of work calls for a very different style of office than the traditional spaces of the past. That said, a dramatic reconfiguration or redesign may not be needed. Making a few strategic, relatively simple changes can help to improve your workflow, increase employee satisfaction, and raise productivity levels. Your physical office spaces will continue to play a central role in the new workplace ecosystem. Offices will always be a place for people and teams to come together to work individually, but also to do group work and to connect. It helps to build relationships and improve company culture, and most importantly, the #1 purpose for coming into the office – collaboration.

Incorporating Alternative Work Options

Local coffee shops, parks, libraries, coworking spaces, and other ‘third-places’ or alternative spaces play a crucial role in the new workplace ecosystem. Younger generations view these spaces as terrific options for when they want to have some flexibility and get some remote work done. They enjoy having the autonomy to change their working environment on a day-to-day basis or simply on a whim.

They see these alternative spaces as an extension of the office and another way to potentially attract and retain talent. That said, depending on your organization’s current office footprint, these types of environments might be easier to access than you think. In fact, they may already be available within your office building. Just having the ability to get outside the office and get work in a common area of the building or in a café, terrace, or amenity lounge is all you really need. It provides your employees with a sense of autonomy while also encouraging departments and teams to collaborate and optimize their time together.

Where the Workplace is Headed

When all is said and done, work is a collaborative process, and we can create a thriving community by designing workplaces to optimize productivity, connection, innovation, and well-being. The workplace ecosystem of the future will be an integrated environment that centers on remaining human, helpful, and holistic while offering openness, convenience, and flexibility.

Your team members will arrive at their own conclusions about what is the right spatial mix for them, whether it’s from home, the office, or a third/alternative space. Right now, successful organizations have the opportunity to reconfigure and transform their workplace arrangements and policies. The focus should be on providing more flexibility, offering multiple locations that enhance work styles and the overall well-being of your employees.

To be successful in the New Workplace Ecosystem we need to remain flexible and focus on creating innovative and inspiring spaces as well as offering work arrangements and options that match our employees’ preferred work modes. We should be embracing this opportunity to develop new styles of working and always remember that successful workspace design is not just a skill, it’s much more than that. It’s your culture – and you can’t put a price tag on culture.

For assistance with creating your New Workplace Ecosystem strategy, contact Rightsize Facility today.

Top Trends at NeoCon 2021

From October 4th to 6th, the Rightsize team attended NeoCon 2021, located only a few blocks away from our downtown office at theMART in Chicago. It’s North America’s most important gathering of commercial interior design experts, where manufacturers present and discuss the latest solutions and strategies for the workplace.

We wanted to share some of the top workplace trends we saw at NeoCon 2021.

Well-Being and Human-Centric Design

Mental health and workplace wellness have been brought into sharp focus. Employers have started to realize the importance of creating comfortable spaces that support these values and bring happiness to their staff. There are some design solutions that can create a comfortable space not only physically but mentally, too.

  • Biophilic design incorporates the natural world into the modern-built environment. This could include natural light, natural materials, soft shapes, vegetation, and other experiences that might be found in nature.
  • Meditation and yoga spaces include sound-proofing, various furniture options for sitting, reclining, or napping, and open space to do yoga or stretches on the floor.
  • Resimercial design combines residential and commercial elements to combat the cold sterility of traditional corporate furnishings.
  • Outdoor furniture was once thought of mainly for al fresco social gatherings, but employees are increasingly seeking outdoor spaces as havens for focused, individual work as well as for collaboration.
Biophilic Design
Meditation and Yoga Spaces
Resimercial Design (Arcadia Odette and Archetype Lounge)
Outdoor Furniture (Extremis AMAi)

Flexible Furniture Systems

Rather than restricting employees to an assigned desk every day, employees will have the choice to work in a range of settings which can flex from one project to the next based on collaboration needs and the tools required.

  • Reconfigurable furniture adapts to the ever-changing work landscape with furnishings that can be reconfigured in an instant based on work styles or employee count.
  • Increased mobility could translate to movable media consoles to connect and share content in any place across the workplace, from focused huddle rooms to open shared spaces.
  • Phone booths and meeting pods provide comfort and privacy in a soundproof environment. Pods also allow companies to make savings in office design and construction.
  • Personal lockers limit the number of surfaces people have to touch, especially touchless access, which provides a hygienic solution for employees who are temporarily in and out of the office.

Flexible (1)
Reconfigurable Furniture (AIS Calibrate Community®)
Increased Mobility (Enwork Zori® Monitor Lift)
Phone Booths and Meeting Pods (Global Priva™ Acoustic Pod)
Personal Lockers (AIS Calibrate® Series Lockers)

Paws for Thought: Dogs in the Office

A happy employee means a thriving business. Learn why allowing dogs at your workplace might increase worker productivity.

If you’re a dog owner, chances are you want to spend as much time as possible with your pet. Today, an increasing number of offices are becoming dog-friendly, so whether you bring along your buddy or enjoy the company’s mascot, chances are you’re going to find your day at work much more enjoyable. And with International Dog Day just around the corner on August 26th, we wanted to highlight some of the benefits of having a dog-friendly office environment.

A dog friendly office is a highly sought-after company perk and potential employees, particularly millennials, take the ability to bring their dog to work into consideration when deciding whether or not to accept a position. Studies have shown that people are more focused and more engaged with their coworkers and even show a greater willingness to work longer hours. Dog-friendly offices also help relieve stress and team members feel more at home and relaxed.

Workplaces that allow dogs also tend to see higher levels of employee satisfaction and employees maintain higher morale when dogs are in the office. Happy employees are more likely to encourage a positive atmosphere of teamwork and open communication and people simply enjoy going to work more at dog-friendly offices. Their happiness extends into other areas of their work life and improves productivity.

Additionally, the research shows that employees of dog-friendly businesses tend to work longer hours and have fewer absences. If employees have their dogs with them at work, they don’t have to worry about leaving as soon as the clock strikes five to feed them or get home to take them for a walk. It also saves them from having to spend money on doggy daycare and dog walking services.

Not only that, but real-life experience has proven that customers who interact with an employee’s pet have positive feedback about the whole company and its service. Having pets at the office makes your company look more approachable to potential customers and future employees. I mean, who wouldn’t like to work in a place where a dog is treated like a part of the team?

Right now employees everywhere are weighing their options and over 40% of the workforce is considering leaving their jobs this year. You need to do everything you can to make your workplace and office as attractive as possible and this includes have a dog-friendly office policy and opening things up to all your team’s four-legged friends. 

Meet some of our furry friends at our downtown Chicago office.

The 8 Craziest Office Trends to Emerge During the Pandemic

It has now been officially seventeen months since the office and workplace world was swiftly locked down in mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic. We quickly learned an entirely new way of working along with a new vocabulary and set of acronyms and technology to go along with it. WFH, Zoom, PPE, Hybrid, Hub & Spoke, etc. As we settled into our new remote routines it seemed like anyone and everyone suddenly was predicting what the office of the future would look like and exactly how things would change. The web was oversaturated with articles discussing, ‘The New Normal’, ‘The Next Normal’, ‘The Post-Pandemic Office’ and hundreds of ‘Workplace 2.0’ webinars, guides, and playbooks were created.

About six weeks into the pandemic, it started to get crazy, and I published a blog post about how everyone can ignore all of those future of the workplace articles, blogs and webinars and suggested:

“The fact is, the office will look different and, yes, health & safety will be at the forefront of the less-densified spaces we’ll all soon be occupying. Some workers will continue working remote and most companies will champion a staggered return to the workspace for their employees until they’re comfortable that there is nothing to be concerned about.

Beyond that though, we are all just guessing.”

Now 12+ months later and the certainty is that yes, we were all just guessing and now that everyone is returning to the office and workplace, it ultimately isn’t going to be that much different than the one we left. Yes, a little safer, a little more secure and a little more flexibility for employees, but not much else has changed.

I remember the first response to the situation that actually seemed like a decent idea and made some sense was the concept that Cushman & Wakefield’s office in the Netherlands created with the idea of ‘The Six Feet Office’. This was even before the CDC started suggesting a six-foot distance social distancing standard and I thought it was an interesting proposition. Since then, there have been a plethora of much crazier ideas and trends that emerged and I thought it would be fun to review eight of the craziest ones we’ve come across.

  1. Tiny “cloffices’ – A closet that doubles as an office, essentially workspaces in closets.
  2. Privacy Robots and Balloon Walls – Leave it to Google, the company that helped popularize open office plans and lavish employee perks, to try to reinvent office spaces to cope with workplace challenges due to the pandemic.
  1. The Nissan Office Pod – Geared specifically toward the digital nomad and the WFA (work-from-anywhere) movement that became even more popularized over the past fifteen months.
  1. Plexiglass, plexiglass & more plexiglass – Dozens of half-baked office prototypes appeared, plastics manufacturers were advertising ready-to-ship coronavirus office solutions and lead times for plexiglass partitions and sneeze guards reached an all-time high.
  1. Eau ‘d Office – Miss the smell of the office printer? Candle companies began making office scented candles for those of us who longed for the return to pre-pandemic office life. I mean who wouldn’t want their apartment to smell like an overworked copy machine or reheated fish cooked by a coworker in the office microwave?
  1. Home Office Pods and Backyard Office Sheds – If you have a decent size backyard and an extra $15,000 laying around, you could have your own fabulous backyard workspace with all the technology and amenities you had at the office.
  1. BioVYZR Helmets – Forget the N95 mask or the single-use mask, rocking the whole mission-to-Mars-level protection during the pandemic for $250 a pop could add glamour and a sci-fi flair to your social distancing efforts.
  1. Calorie-counting desks – A Dubai-based furniture company actually began manufacturing desks that connect to your phone to calculate the calories you burn while standing.

In one study performed in the United Kingdom they asked children what they think offices will be like in the future after COVID-19. From breakout beaches to hover robots, the designs showed how children think adults need to have some futuristic fun when they returned to the office. After reading about some of the ridiculous trends listed above, perhaps we should have asked children for their predictions from the start!

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Work From Home Burnout

Working from home is often romanticized. The idea being that remote work leads to a more fulfilling life and an enhanced lifestyle because you have more time to do the things you want. But like anything that is idealized, the reality is in stark contrast to the fantasy.

Because for many employees, the work-from-home environment is a toxic one, adding as much as 15 hours to their workweek. Now that the work-from-home honeymoon is over, many employees are dealing with the emotional and mental repercussions of no longer being able to go to the office.

Why Are You More Likely To Experience Burnout When you Work From Home?

Burnout is typical in a traditional workspace and is often associated with being a workaholic or having an excessive workload.

But you don’t have to be a workaholic to experience burnout. Instead, once you lack a routine that you’ve built around going to the office, you’ll find you’ll easily overexert yourself, even unknowingly.

Essentially when you are working from home you don’t have traditional office hours. There is no clear demarcation or separation between your office and your home, and you are unable to escape office-induced stress by going home since your work resides with you.

All these factors exacerbate and accelerate burnout in employees by destroying the routine responsible for maintaining their cognitive abilities and effectiveness.

When your home is your workspace, you are more likely to blur the lines between work you should do in the office and the unwinding you do at home.

You’ll find that – even unwittingly – you are predisposed to toxic productivity. Checking emails first thing, creating schedules late into the night, skipping lunch, and sinking into general self-neglect.

These are the actions that lead to burnout in an office. However, when you take away the safe space that is your home – because it has become an office – you destroy the structures that allow you to combat burnout effectively.

The Implications of Remote Work Burnout

Remote-work burnout has far-reaching consequences that eclipse office burnout. The most devastating implication being that the effects of burnout aren’t as easy to reverse as developing a schedule that leads to burning out.

Reduces Your Ability To Identify You’re Burning Out

When you’re working remotely, burnout can go unnoticed for months, not because you have limited interaction, but because of the very nature of burnout.

One of the first signs of burnout is a decline in your cognitive ability. Therefore your decision-making, reasoning, rationale, and critical thinking are impaired. Essentially, preventing you from identifying that you are overworked and in need of rest and a reset.

However, when you are out of the office, burnout can linger, because it isn’t accompanied by the obvious warning signs, like extended periods spent in the office or taking business trips.

Since you may still be in your PJs by lunchtime you could think nothing of the number of hours you’re working or the limited time you spend doing anything besides work.

Amplifies Feelings of Loneliness

As is characteristic of working remotely, you spend most of your days in isolation. However, being isolated for extended periods leads to loneliness, and loneliness happens to be one of the most debilitating human experiences.

According to a meta-analysis co-authored by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, loneliness is twice as harmful as obesity, having the same effect as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.

When you’re working from home, especially during a time like this, you have limited access to a community and can therefore experience immense feelings of loneliness. Additionally, you don’t have support from your peers because you’re in isolation, rapidly increasing your chances of recognizing the stark self-isolation and reducing your chances of finding meaningful ways to cope with it.

Increases Your Chances of Developing Illness

This effect isn’t limited to your location, burnout is known to increase stress levels whether or not you experience it in an office or a home. Over time this increase in stress is responsible for high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other diseases and illnesses. You don’t realize it, but burnout is rapidly shortening your life and reducing the overall wellness that you experience by having an office and the routine that accompanies it.

Is Damaging To Your Productivity

A vital characteristic of productivity is efficacy. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of productivity is “the rate at which a person or company does useful work.”

The presumption is that if you do more work – or take on the traits of a workaholic and work for longer – you’re being more productive. However, this is a simplistic approach to productivity and neglects a nucleus hallmark of productivity – efficacy. Over time you’re wearing yourself down and will need more time to complete fewer tasks effectively, essentially fueling the endless cycle that is burnout.


As many offices still aren’t operating at full capacity, there isn’t a clear method to resolve work from home burnout. However, there are steps employees can take to reduce their chances of experiencing burnout or finding ways to overcome it.

These solutions can include scheduling time at the office when it is available, prioritizing social interaction, and developing your quarantine bubble so that it doesn’t only include colleagues.


Contact Rightsize Facility here.

Modernizing Offices in “Traditional” Fields

Office spaces often reflect the key values of an organization. There is no denying that planning and outfitting your work environment is a big investment. However, when executed correctly, it is likely to pay off in different ways. Well-designed offices can create a great impression on clients, improve employee morale & productivity, and provide a pleasant ambiance to get mundane jobs done efficiently.

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Here, There and Everywhere

Rolling out a national standard for offices across the country can be an expensive exercise. To make the process more cost-effective, a manufacturing company has partnered with Rightsize Facility utilizing our BLENDED SOLUTION of furniture from 200+ manufacturers.

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