Trends in workplace design 2017 and beyond

richard carr office designDesign trends in the workplace are continuously developing. Creating an environment that helps employees work to the best of their ability, collaborate effectively and maintain productivity is a constant challenge.

With Millennials (born between 1980 and mid-2000s) taking over as the largest group in the workplace and Generation Z (born between 1994 and 2010) starting their careers, we’re looking ahead to many seismic changes when it comes to how and where we work.

Technological advances

The increasing use of wearables and the changeover to tablets as viable, portable and convenient work tools will continue to influence office design. Products like Windows Surface Pro and iPad Pro have shown a viable alternative to using laptops and has allowed employees to be increasingly mobile.

There is also increasing competition among companies for the top employee talent. More than 75% of full time employees are open to new opportunities at any one time. Creating an enjoyable and creative office space can be a factor in retaining excellent employees.

Office style is maturing

Moving away from the trend of making offices appear ‘cool’ by including football tables, beer taps and play spaces that was extremely popular with the plethora of tech start-ups over the last 10-15 years, design is maturing.

It’s about representing the company culture and brand in a subtly refined way. While keeping some of the more youthful features, offices are becoming more sophisticated.

Feature storage

Storage is no longer simply functional. Furniture has become part of the overall design of the workplace. Storage furniture is both stylish and functional and gives character to the office. Designs surrounding storage have become more domestic in feel, with natural finishes and minimal designs.

Design via data collection

Taking the guesswork out of what makes the ideal workplace design, technology is allowing analysis of data. Wearable devices make it possible for companies to know exactly how employees interact and work. Design can then be based off this information.

For example, Humanyze, a company based in the US use ‘sociometric ID Badges’. These combine sensors, microphones and Bluetooth tech to allow the company to collect data based on employee speech patterns, posture and much more. Using this information, a work space can be created to encourage collaboration.

Building flexibility in

Technology and work culture is constantly changing and shifting. Organisations are starting to build in future-proofing flexibility into their office design. Adaptable furniture, movable tech and flexible attitudes can mean that businesses can adapt to new needs as and when they happen.

The workspace is the second highest cost for most businesses, so ensuring that they can meet changes in employees’ needs is important.

Combining collaboration and privacy

There is increasing recognition that many employees want more privacy in order to focus. Open plan offices can encourage collaboration at the expense of focus. Activity based design provides different areas for particular work styles.

For example, including privacy pods in open plan offices, which are placed in order to minimise noise and reduce interruptions. Quiet zones for people needing to concentrate is a trend that is likely to continue.

Giving employees options on how best to work, with thought and design put into acoustics and placement can help them feel engaged and empowered.

Well-being design

A major trend for 2016, well-being is still top of the agenda for designers. Wellness programmes ensuring employees have access to health and fitness facilities have been around for a long time. Integrating them into the design of a workspace is less common, however.

Standing desks and staircase positioning are some of the ways architects and designers are looking to encourage movement during the work day. Sit-stand desks are also becoming increasingly popular, allowing employees to vary their position while they work.

Incorporating greenery

The idea of ensuring there are plants around the office, along with plenty of natural light, is an offshoot of well-being. This is called ‘biophilic design’, and has plenty of research to back up the positive effect it has on employee productivity.

According to a report by Human Spaces, plants and plenty of light in an office can increase productivity by an impressive 6%. It also measures the increase in creativity at 15%. Despite this, almost half of all employees currently work in offices that offer no natural light or greenery.