At this year’s show, not only did Steelcase introduce smart new products that creatively respond to current workplace trends but also introduced product enhancements to Answer, Universal, Brody, Ology, and Gesture to name a few. There were several destinations throughout the showroom that allowed guests to experience these products and many of these enhancements incorporated new technology applications.

The message continues to be, “we’re in the midst of an office renaissance“. As people reject the sameness of the traditional office, the workplace is increasingly becoming a place for inspiration, creativity and social connection with others. Not to mention that employees are embracing the freedom to choose where and how they work. Recent research reveals that employees who like their work environment, are also more engaged. So, the places where people work are vital. Here are 5 key workplace trends from this year’s show.

1. The lines between traditional work zones and casual lounge spaces are blurring.

Spaces such as the one below (Boston Worklife) exemplify the rich texture and options of the new workplace. New products such as B-Free (available Winter 2016/2017)a full range of modular lounge furniture, are designed for this kind of new workplace. B-Free creates sheltered niches where people can work together or alone in comfortable, relaxed postures. In addition, B-Free’s modularity allows for different workzones in a small footprint and flexibility for the future as needs change.

neocon 1 2. Increasingly smart new products are embedded with technology.

Not only does the new Brody Lounge incorporate technology such as an occupancy sensor which activates indicator lights, there were several other new technology introductions at Neocon 2016. Designtex introduced a cloaking film that blocks the information on displays from outside observation while allowing people to see both in and out of a private space. The cloaking film was developed to control access to information ensuring that confidential information is observed only by chosen participants, while preserving a participant’s ability to see into and out of private spaces.

3. Smart tools embedded in spaces will help optimize and track the use of space.

Winner of the silver Best of NeoCon Award, Steelcase introduced Workplace Advisor, an integrated system of embedded intelligence that, over time, provides information on usage trends in collaborative spaces. Customers, facility managers, and their design partners can use the information to make data-driven decisions about how they use their valuable real estate. Workplace Advisor includes an occupancy sensor network, a cloud platform to store and analyze data, and a website that provides visualizations and insights. Usage trends offer key space managers the quantitative data they need to understand when and how their spaces are used.

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Image above shows Designtex cloaking film and Steelcase Workplace Advisor.

4. With compact footprints, storage has to work smarter.

High Density Storage, introduced this year and winner of Best of Neocon Gold, is a great example of a storage option that provides not only personal storage but serves as extendable privacy to workers. When extended, this solution offers added privacy to the user and acts as an additional boundary in open spaces.

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5. Customization reaches new heights and continues to support culture and brand.

The Steelcase space showed several examples of the evolution of customization; New ways of personalizing products through color & pattern, materials & features, shapes & sizes such as the LessThanFive chairs shown below. This builds on the trend of allowing customers and end users to fully engage in creating a unique and culturally relevant space for their organization.

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All photos: ©2016 Steelcase Inc. Used with permission.