Long gone are the days of working 9 – 5 in a dull, mass-produced cubical. Workspaces are now designed specifically to boost morale, creativity and above all, productivity. Companies are paying top dollar for studies to help them understand what exactly makes their employees happy because they know that a happy employee is an invaluable asset. One of the things that have been proven, is that workplace environment plays a massive role in how an employee perceives job satisfaction. Let’s look at the office design trends that will be shaping our workplaces and productivity over the next couple of years.
- Collaborative spaces
With one of the biggest buzzword in office design this year being collaboration, communal office spaces have become very popular. These areas are focused on creating hubs for people to interact and combine skills while retaining all the comforts of home. Sometimes, these are people within the same company, but it could even be people from different industries sharing rental space. With companies like Uber and Airbnb placing the focus squarely on accessibility rather than ownership, these spaces are becoming increasing popular around the world.
Modular furniture is highly suited to flexible spaces that can adapt according to changing needs. Designed to take on different shapes, these items boost creativity and give the workspace a dynamic edge.
Allowing a space to adapt to a different activity by moving, stacking or evolving the furniture, is a fresh and playful way of using space while getting down to serious business.
Modular does not necessarily mean open plan, however; privacy can still be created successfully with modular office furniture. In fact, open plan offices have been known to reduce productivity because of interruption and noise levels.
This is not a new trend, but one that has gained momentum in the past few years and as technology evolves looks set to grow only stronger. Built-in chargers, multimedia devices, modems and power adapters all allow us to connect wirelessly to a company’s server and each other.
It’s the end of unsightly wires and the start of uncluttered and highly efficient work spaces.
With the best interest of employees in mind, companies have shifted the focus to creating more holistic spaces to boost well-being and productivity.
Indoor plants, sit/stand desks, natural light, and fresh air circulation are all ways in which workspaces are becoming happier and healthier places.
It is not uncommon to see a yoga area or vegetable rooftop garden in an office space. Some companies even have nap station to encourage employees to take a break when they’re tired.
Companies are becoming not only more environmentally conscious but also more tech-savvy, with a massive trend being to go paperless. Filing rooms and archives are vanishing into the clouds – literally. Archiving is done via cloud storage and has saved not only a large number of trees, but also valuable floor space that can be used in a more productive way.
To assist with a paperless environment, tools like glass whiteboards are making interactive meetings more environmentally friendly. These boards allow users to clearly convey their ideas while saving paper.
Going paperless has many benefits aside from the environmental impact: saving paper and filing space can also seriously lower overhead costs for a company.
- Home away from home
There is a distinct move away from dedicated office furniture and traditional finishes, towards a homelier approach to the office that is warm and inviting. Comfortable couches, coffee tables that you can put your feet on, and cozy scatter cushions all add to make an office feel more personable. These spaces are used for both formal and informal meetings, putting clients and employees at ease.
Art work is also becoming increasingly popular in the office environment, with some companies making art a part of their corporate investment portfolio and creating galleries at the office for their collections.
- Pops of colour
Out with the neutral palettes and in with bold pops of color. A study done by the University of Texas shows that using pale, dull colours in a work environment not only lowers productivity, it also increases the incidents of depression and general unhappiness.
Colour has the incredible ability to subliminally influence our moods. Companies with massive resources, like Google, have gone to great lengths to test the effects of specific colours on their employees.
But colour experts claim that colour has more or less the same effect for everyone: blue is calming, yellow is a mood-lifter, orange promotes creativity and green is balancing. All of these are great colours to introduce into different areas of the office to improve morale and productivity.
- Communal tables
With the big shift towards connectivity, the communal table has become increasingly popular not only in restaurants and hotels but also in the workplace.
Used for anything and everything, these tables serve as meeting spaces, brain-storming platforms, general workstations and are even used for communal eating. They create a sense of understanding and unity in the workspace and promote open communication.
- Going green
Sustainable design, waste reduction, and optimized energy usage are at the forefront of workspace trends. Being certified as a ‘green’ company boosts popularity with both new and existing customers while reducing energy bills. The EPA also offer various incentives for companies wanting to operate more sustainably.
One way of bringing green into the office is to add a living wall. It’s a great way to create a beautiful focal while improving air quality in the space. It also has been proven that having plants in the office, create a happier and healthier environment for employees (source).