5 design trends for the modern workplace in 2017

2017 workplace design trends

2017 is set to be a momentous year in workplace design. Here are 5 of the most important current trends in workplace design.

1.Workplace design will become more evidence based

Air quality, natural light, temperature, noise and ergonomics all have the ability to enhance productivity, increase employee satisfaction and reduce absenteeism. Employees welcome the ability to be able to seek out quiet places to manage more complex thinking or to dress comfortably, regardless of the season. As mismanagement of the workplace can lead to a variance in employee performance by as much as 30%, workplace design will no longer consist purely of space planning and colour selection.

As designers we now have the analysis tools to determine if an organisation’s current workplace setup is the optimal use of space or if a new style or work or office design would be more appropriate. With the ability to review their employee’s movements designers will have numerical evidence as to why moving them to a more agile organisational philosophy such as desk sharing or Activity Based Working would be advantageous.

2.Workplace wellness and wellbeing will become essential employee benefits

Increasingly, wellbeing at work is understood to be a business critical issue and the challenges and pressures to business today mean that a strategic focus on wellbeing is more essential than ever. However, UK employers are failing to adequately invest in the health and wellbeing of their employees, which is costing the UK economy £57 billion a year in lost productivity.

The need for employers to invest in health (both physical and mental) and wellbeing in a strategic and proactive way is clear.  A healthy, engaged and resilient workforce is more productive and profitable in terms of efficiency, customer relations, team working loyalty and retention, and sustainable performance.  Most business leaders know instinctively that a happy, healthy workforce is a productive workforce, yet many still treat employee wellness and engagement as an ‘optional extra’ rather than as an integral part of the way they do business. 

3.Workplace design will support brand and culture

As organisations seek to gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent, workplace branding will take on a new level of importance with design. Evolving from simply using brand colours and including generic “fun” and “collaborative” elements to a more serious consideration of how design elements and aesthetics can bring their corporate strategy to life whilst creating a satisfying work environment for staff to connect in, perform in and be empowered within. An organisation that can successfully generate positive feelings via internal branding will be more likely to retain staff, lift engagement levels and achieve strategic goals.

4.Organisations restructure to focus on teamwork

While individuals have their own career agenda, companies are now structures with teams as they realise that high performing teams will enable them to compete for the future. Organisations are restructuring for several reasons, including the rise of millennial and gen Z workers who grew up playing team sports and have the same expectations at the office.

Nearly 92% of companies rate “organizational design” as their top priority and three-fourths of gen Z’s and millenals said they are well prepared to work effectively in a team. Cisco was one of the first companies to embrace this trend, creating “Team Space”, a platform that delivers intelligence on how teams can work best to win together.

5.Office space to incorporate flexibility for business agility

Gen-Y are inspiring flexibility in terms of how, where and what their workspace looks like. Mobile technology is allowing employees to work from home, on the train or in a café. But the office remains the place where the business comes together to collaborate, socialize and connect.

Instead of following a more traditional office design, including an open plan office, meeting rooms and a breakout area for meals, designers will work with a business to develop a range of spaces that suit the day to day needs of employees and allow them to move fluidly between the variety of areas and readily seek out an area that will compliment their requirements on the day.