Future By Design: Kingston Report

Future By Design: Kingston Report

Future by Design discusses The Future Workplace

Photos taken by: Brad Duffy

Last Tuesday Wendy Millard hosted the Future By Design:The Future Workplace at Empire Life. The event featured panelists from business consulting group Habanero, creative firm Sid Lee, and innovative furniture company Herman Miller. With a great turnout at the Kingston location, 12 cities across Canada tuned in to seek knowledge from the panelists. Each of the panelists shared their visions for the future workplace and their approaches to managing successful workplace environments and culture.

Representing Habanero Consulting Group, an organization that is ranked number one on The Globe and Mail’s list of Best Workplaces in Canada, was VP Caterina Sanders. Caterina began the presentations by proposing strategies that will set the foundation for an effective workplace. Sid Lee co-founder Philippe Meunier continued the discussion by sharing his insights into how we can adapt to the needs of the future workplace. Herman Miller’s Director of Insight & Exploration, Gretchen Gscheidle, finished the presentations by explaining the Scenario Planning approach.

The group at Empire Life consisted of a few members of the Empire Life staff, several students from the St Lawrence College graphic design program, including a couple members of faculty, and a few other members of the design community. After listening to the panelists’ presentations, we used our break to contemplate their insights and visions. Our group had an engaging discussion, questioning the consequences of the future workplace and how it will be managed.


  • How will we define the line between work and life?

  • Where is the privacy? How will we accommodate for it?

  • Is a collapsing of hierarchy of management, inevitable? What does this mean?

  • How do we transition the workplace from what it has been to where it is going? How do we bridge the gap between generations: baby boomers and millennials?

  • There does not seem to be a lot of focus on the individual in the future workplace.

Following the break and discussion, we participated in a live Q&A with the panelists, taking turns to ask the panelists various questions. The question we proposed to the panelists was about transitioning the workplace from where it has been to where it is going. We asked them:

“How do you establish a workplace that bridges the gap between the generations? How do we accommodate for the needs of baby boomers and millennials alike?”

The answer we got back was:

It is all about accommodating for a variety of scenarios, a range of work modes and personalities. It is about providing choice and variety, providing private spaces and noise free zones for those who need it, but at the same time providing open spaces and community spaces to encourage the interaction and collaboration that is key to the future workplace. Millennials drive the new workplace, but it is a workplace that seems to appeal to everyone. They are raising the bar in a constructive way.


  • “It’s no longer a sea of sameness. Today’s workstations and landscapes need to be designed in ways that take into account how work will change.” Gretchen Gscheidle

  • “The next generation of workers will not accept a place without light and playfulness. They will pack up their laptop and go elsewhere.” Philippe Meunier

  • “Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), mastery (the urge to get better at something that matters) and purpose (where autonomy and mastery come together) are already present today. It’s a great foundation on which to build a workplace experience.” Caterina Sanders

  • “Work is split into Me-time and We-time. The time we spend on our own processing information, and the time where we exchange, debate and share in an active way.” Philippe Meunier

  • “Increasingly we will put more trust in our digital social networks over search engines like Google.” Gretchen Gscheidle

  • “Millenials are driving a different workplace; they have different demands. They are asking for things that everyone wants and raising the bar in a way that everyone benefits.” Caterina Sanders

  • “The only thing that will not change is change. Everything will transform at light speed.” Philippe Meunier

  • “If you have a culture where people understand what’s expected of them and love what they do, things like vacation time won’t need to be as structured. People will be able to manage their time as they see fit.” Caterina Sanders

  • “Instead of selling hours, we should sell value. More and more clients are seeing the value in what we do. They don’t want our time, they want our ability.” Philippe Meunier

  • “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” Gretchen Gscheidle

See RGD’s full recap of the event and link to at: http://www.rgd.ca/events-and-programs/rgd-news/news_post/1009.php
RGD members can view the recording of the panelists’ presentations and discussion on vimeo! Find out how by clicking on the link above.