Staying up to date with the latest office design trends isn’t easy. After all, office refurbishment is expensive, takes a lot of time, and is disruptive to business operations in general. Thing is, if your company allows itself to fall too far behind, it can be detrimental to your ability to hire and retain top talent.
Remember, office design isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s also about ensuring your employees have the best possible working environment available to them.
So, if you think it’s time to tear down your cubicles, or that the open-plan design you opted for a couple of years ago isn’t working, these are the trends you need to know about.
The Flexible Office
For most of its history, going to the office has meant clocking in and spending most of the day at your assigned desk. Thing is, that could make collaborating with people from other departments pretty difficult.
It’s not something that the open-plan office made any easier either. Hands up if you know the pain of trying to concentrate while two colleagues have a discussion at the desk next door to yours.
Increasingly though, the idea of a fixed desk will start to seem foreign. Why, after all, should you be anchored to the same desk every day when the devices you work on are all mobile?
Instead, you’re more likely to base your seating on the kind of work you’re doing on a particular day. Some days, for instance, you might sit with a project team you’ve been assigned to, others might see you sitting alone in a quiet space working on a big report.
Flexible offices won’t just be about employees sitting in different places. The furniture will also be flexible.
A great example of this is audio product company Skullcandy, which has movable desks in its Zurich offices that can be easily reconfigured.
Remember in the introduction to this article, when we mentioned that redesigning your office is often expensive and time-consuming? Modular design aims to change that.
It’s an approach that allows you to easily swap out elements that aren’t working or update ones that are getting a little long in the tooth.
Soft seating, workbenches, desk pods, meet point tables, collaborative and breakout furniture, and acoustic elements are things you can take a modular approach to.
It’s not just about the furniture though. Taking a modular approach to office design also means that you don’t have to bury electric and communication infrastructure in the walls, making it much simpler to upgrade.
In all but the most advanced of today’s offices, identifying the smart devices is pretty easy. In the future though the whole office will be smart.
Embedded sensors in desks, chairs, lights, and even the walls will collect data about where people like to spend time in the office, when and where they’re at their most productive, and what configurations work best.
Combine this with the innovations around flexible and modular design we described earlier, and you can see how important adaptability will be to the office of the future.
Putting People First
Anyone who’s watched the office design space over the past few years will have noticed that the way we look at offices has changed.
In the past, there was a quest for uniformity and cleanliness. Thing is, people aren’t all the same and they don’t always respond well to clean, sterile working environments.
Companies are increasingly aware of this, designing offices for the overall wellbeing of their employees, rather than to send out a message of strength and purpose.
Things like airflow, lighting, comfort, and large-scale plant features are all becoming more important.
That’s good. The best design is all about people. Applied properly to the workplace, it can turn a good team of employees into a great one.