This past year has seen the continuation of three strong trends dominating office interior design and they will likely continue to shape much of 2018 too. While some design trends come and go, these are likely to have more longevity because they reflect the way we work and our daily lifestyles.
If your company is thinking about an office redesign or relocation, the following three trends are a good starting point for exploring how your office design aligns with your workplace strategies.
#1: Promoting wellbeing through office design
This is at the heart of all our office design projects; our goal is to design spaces where people can flourish, promoting wellbeing and happiness, as well as productivity and performance. Employers know that a healthy, happy workforce is more productive and performs better. Staff absenteeism is reduced, morale is higher, staff retention is increased and it becomes easier to recruit new people too.
While companies are using many strategies to boost wellbeing in the workplace, such as gym memberships, free fruit and healthy snacks, and cycle to work schemes, the office environment is just as important.
Not only does a welcoming and attractive office design make employees feel valued and happier, good design can have a positive impact on health. The use of natural light and fresh air is beneficial to health and wellbeing, and so we aim to capture both these natural resources through clever design elements such as light wells or biophilic design. Biophilic design connects us with nature and includes design features such as living walls that not only make us feel better emotionally, but also help to filter the air we breathe.
Another key way that we’re promoting wellbeing in the workplace is by thinking about how to make it a less sedentary environment by encouraging movement, and interaction with others. Getting employees out of their seats and moving about is good for their physical health, as well as being an effective way to boost productivity by helping people re-energise and re-focus. It’s also good for mental health too, by facilitating interactions and socialisation, and reducing the feelings of isolation that desk-bound employees can experience.
To find out more about optimising your workplace for employee wellbeing, read this blog post.
#2. A home from home
An extension of the trend in wellbeing is how the workplace is increasingly feeling less like a traditional office and more like a domestic, homelike environment. This is a reflection of a variety of different factors such as the realisation that since we spend the majority of our waking hours in the workplace, it should be somewhere warming, inviting and comfortable to work in. In part it is also a result of more informal working practices, where casual dress is more widely accepted and the traditional workstation is no longer always the ideal space to work – see trend #3.
We design third space solutions such as collaborative meeting pods and high back booths to become a focal point in the workspace; somewhere for informal meetings between colleagues to take place, individuals to work from on their laptops or tablets, or just somewhere to relax and take stock. These more informal areas create a family vibe that can make the office space feel more inclusive and even remove some of the hierarchical barriers between different employees.
There has also been a general softening of many of the finishes used in the office space, which supports this domestic trend. A more tactile use of textiles and natural finishes combines ‘home comforts’ with biophilic design. For example, Scandinavian styling also uses lots of natural wood and timber to bring nature into the office environment.
#3: Agile spaces for agile working practices
Digitalisation has changed how many companies operate and this has also changed the modern workspace. Not everyone needs a traditional workstation with a desk, chair and computer reserved for their exclusive use. Some people only need this kind of set up for a few hours a day, and have the flexibility to work wherever they can get connected to the WiFi or the company intranet.
Many employees welcome more collaborative spaces, where they can work with colleagues on projects, and employers benefit from the innovation this kind of working practice can bring. Boardrooms and meeting rooms are not always a good substitute as they may not offer the right kind of environment or furniture solutions for these task based activities.
This trend is also being driven by a new generation of employees. Millennials are used to this more agile and flexible way of working, and are generally more digitally savvy, having experienced it at college or university. They don’t necessarily expect their own desk in the workplace, being adept at working anywhere with connectivity.
Collaborative spaces for brainstorming and working together, hotdesks for flexible working, informal meeting areas – such as the large comfy sofa – have changed the way office floor space is used. As a result some companies no longer need as much space to accommodate every employee all of the time and therefore can look to reduce overheads by relocating to smaller sites, or use redundant office space for other activities.
How have these deeper trends in the way we work affected your office environment? Are you providing employees with spaces that enable them to work more productively and more healthily? If you would like to discuss any of the trends above in more detail and how they can be incorporated in your office design please get in touch. Call 01344 290290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.