Workplace Week is a week-long event, organized by workplace consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), that shines a spotlight on some of the most innovative, creative, and celebrated workspaces in the world, all while raising money for children’s charities. Each year, it attracts some of the most prominent figures in the facility management, corporate real estate, workplace, and technology sectors.
This summer, for the first time since Workplace Week launched in London seven years ago, it is crossing the Atlantic to New York City. Visitors will experience a wide range of tours, fringe events, networking opportunities, and a conference over five days (June 18–22, 2018).
Last year’s London event featured guided tours of PwC’s swanky office on the banks of the River Thames and Mintel’s new facility, just a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral. Facility Executive caught up with AWA founder Andrew Mawson to hear more about the New York event and what a new U.S. audience has to look forward to.
FE: When and where did the first Workplace Week take place? How did AWA come up with the idea to host a workplace-focused week-long event for charity?
Mawson: It all started on a Friday evening in 2009, when I was watching a popular telethon dedicated to raising money for the BBC charity “Children in Need”. This particular UK charity does incredible work to help support the development of kids who are often from disadvantaged backgrounds. I was impressed with the work it was doing to help kids across the UK, and I had a brainwave. I realized that the AWA team could get its clients, contacts and partners to open their doors and sell tickets for a series of visits and events. The idea was that Workplace Week could open people’s eyes to new thinking on ways of working, workplace design and technology.
So, in September 2011, AWA’s team got to action, rapidly pulling together a small program of visits. With the help of partners and institutional organizations, tickets were soon sold out and a contribution was made to Children in Need. Every year since then, additional elements have been added including fringe events run by partner organizations on all kinds of work and place subjects, the Workplace Week Dinner, and a day-long convention.
Each year, Workplace Week has gotten bigger and better, bringing new insights on work, place and creativity to the “workplace” community. Since 2011, the event has also raised more than £100,000 for the BBC’s charity and has engaged with more than 2,500 workplace professionals and leaders in a celebration of workplace innovation.
FE: What new elements or highlight will attendees find at the 2018 New York event?
Mawson: In New York we have decided to join forces with the brilliant “I Have a Dream” Foundation, which does inspiring work for disadvantaged children in the U.S. As well as some great visits and fringe events, we have added the leading UK conference Workplace Trends to our program too. Speakers have been chosen purely on merit, while sponsors are not allowed to secure speaker slots through their sponsorship. The conference will focus on designing workplaces for well-being and performance.
Visitors to Workplace Week New York will have an opportunity to tour Nickelodeon’s recently redesigned offices, a 233,000 square foot space on Broadway, and the headquarters of Willis Towers Watson, New York City’s biggest activity-based workplace. Other highlights include a tour of the head office of global construction firm Structure Tone, a WELL-certified space in Manhattan, as well as a special tour of WeWork’s headquarters with one of the company’s top strategists to learn more about the co-working trend.
FE: How has Workplace Week changed since the first event in 2011? What elements remain the same?
Mawson: The core goal are to expose people to new workplace thinking, have fun and raise money for the charity. We are determined, however, that Workplace Week stays on the cutting edge of workplace management and design. As a workplace consultancy, AWA understands that there is growing body of research on the impact that working environments, workplace habits and culture have on people and broader business performance. We have now entered into a new age of workplace management that is about designing and delivering multi-faceted, multi-sensory experiences that reflect an organization’s personality, support human effectiveness and lure in the best talent. What Workplace Week attempts to do is find workplaces that best exhibit this crucial trend.
FE: And, what can facility professionals expect for the 2018 Workplace Week event in London later this year?
Mawson: For the 2018 London event, specifically, we have decided to turn up the whisk on workplace innovation by looking to attract international visitors and showcase London’s design and innovation expertise. In London we will be running more than 25 tours, six fringe events, and the Workplace Week Dinner. Throughout the week, we will be introducing some new workplaces and showcasing some old favorites like the head office of insurance market Lloyds of London, whose heritage dates back to the 17th century.