[This article was written by James Hale.]
The Latest Office Design Trends
The modern workplace is a constantly evolving space, and it’s one of the most important factors in the success of a business. The understanding of which elements create a productive and positive workplace is always developing, and this in turn influences the ways companies design their offices, and spaces.
While some trends are only fleeting, other concepts such as employee wellbeing, and flexible and collaborative spaces have become central tenets in office design. As we move towards a future in which our workplaces are constructed based on a clear knowledge of what helps us achieve our best, we’re taking a look at some of the latest office design trends, in 2018 and beyond:
Flexible working spaces
One of the most talked-about innovations in office design has been the advent of the flexible working space; in recent years, this concept has evolved into something far more intricate and informed than a simple open plan office.
The concept at the centre of these designs is that many modern industries now require staff to undertake a wide variety of different tasks, many of which are best completed under certain conditions. Businesses are now only aware of this – they’re now dedicating specific spaces for specific purposes.
Silent, individual working zones (or even individual ‘pods’), small and large collaborative areas, outdoor spaces, and other cellular workstations are becoming more commonplace. The same is true of ‘hot desk’ setups – and increasingly there seems to be a move towards a more cosy, ‘homely’ aesthetic, to make these more appealing.
The term ‘flexible’ has also taken on new meaning. This is no longer solely applicable to the way that workspaces are used, but also how they are physically designed. Many companies are implementing furnishings, desks, and other installations that can be easily reorganised or reconfigured. Workspaces aren’t just becoming more flexible, they’re becoming adaptable, in line with the needs of staff.
Possibly the most significant office design trend to emerge, and arguably the one that will gain the most traction and develop most rapidly, is the integration of digital technology into the physical workspace.
The age of the ‘smart office’ is here. By integrating software and hardware in the workspace, it’s now possible for businesses to centrally manage almost any aspect of their physical working environment.
So many things can be controlled remotely – from temperature and light levels, to room bookings and calendar management (there are even sensors that can detect coffee spillages/damages, and signal the attention of a cleaner or maintenance official). Smart technology is streamlining the workplace, and helping offices run as smoothly as possible.
While in its infancy this technology might have drawn raised eyebrows, it has become sophisticated enough for businesses to make informed decisions about its use. With so much now accessible through smart technology, many companies are doing research to determine how this tech can be used to benefit their staff, improve productivity, and even reduce stress levels.
While this technology is cutting-edge, it’s not just new-build offices that are making use of it. While the extent to which smart tech can be implemented is somewhat governed by the physical restraints of the space, through apps, software, and easily-installed hardware, it’s possible for older buildings to incorporate this technology into their workspaces too.
Wellbeing in the workplace
A trend that has not just made waves in the world of office design, but in countless areas of modern life, is wellness. The pursuit of health and well-being has huge ramifications when it comes to the workplace. Employee sickness costs the UK economy £15 billion every year, so the health and wellness of employees is now a priority in many office designs.
Simple adjustments, like including stations that offer staff free fruit, veg, or healthy snacks, are becoming increasingly popular, but some businesses are taking things a step further. Offering onsite gyms or exercise facilities, and even investing in things like biophilic design – architecture designed with wellness and sustainability in mind – is becoming more commonplace for large companies, with elaborate installations like ‘living walls’ now a visible element in several workplaces.
One of the biggest priorities for employee wellness in the workplace is natural light – traditional, as cubicle-based office spaces typically don’t expose staff to a lot of natural light throughout the day. New research into the benefits of natural light have highlighted that this can be detrimental to our circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, and overall health.
It’s now common to see everything from huge windows to elaborate glass roof systems included in office design – and it’s reaffirming to see that this is being taken seriously, both by the businesses implementing these designs, and the companies offering them.
What’s most interesting about all of these trends is the central focus point that has led to their development. While in the past office spaces have often been governed by things like cost-effectiveness and adherence to traditional designs, things are changing. The logic behind many emerging trends is now focussed mainly on one thing – the employee.
This has been made possible largely due to the deeper understanding of workplace effectiveness we now have. Years of research have illuminated what helps people to work more productively and effectively, and how to be happier and more engaged at work – and it’s this knowledge that businesses are tapping into to inform their decisions about office design.
As new technology emerges, and a new generation of employees enters the workspace, their expectations are different from their seniors – and businesses are finding ways to ensure that from the moment they walk into their offices, their needs are being met in the most efficient ways.
James is a graduate of English Literature, and as a regularly published writer he frequently pens his thoughts on the various factors influencing the modern world of work. As the chief content creator for Cantifix, an architectural glass firm who help businesses improve their work spaces by installing everything from simple windows to structural glass roofs, James gets an inside view into how companies are approaching workplace design. In his downtime, he can usually be found in a cinema.