Designing office spaces today is no easy task. Companies are becoming increasingly complex in terms of their functions and operations. Those on the front lines of workplace design are working to anticipate the ever-evolving needs of businesses while creating a cohesive brand environment that embraces innovation and a company’s corporate culture and vision.
The challenges facing businesses today have led to exciting transformations in the way that employees perform, interact with, and operate within built environments. No longer are employees and prospective employees simply working in one-size-fits-all spaces, but rather, workspaces are designed for extraordinary business needs, with the goal to improve performance and productivity, attract talented new recruits, enhance wellness and well-being, and inspire new ideas.
Natural light offers an abundance of benefits and and office designers strive to incorporate as much natural light as possible into any design, and while this can be a complex task, depending on the building and space in question, simple things like taking care where workspaces are positioned, utilising smart lighting solutions to complement natural light and also thinking creatively about how any outdoor or rooftop spaces can be made usable can have a major impact.
As sustainability, consumption and climate change issues take centre stage at a global level, there has been a tangible increase in demand for workplace furniture and materials which have strong sustainable credentials. While many larger offices endeavour to attain a BREEAM, LEED or Green Building Standard rating/accreditation for their space, an increasing number are taking a proactive, hands on approach when it comes to selecting materials and furniture and many stipulate a preference for reclaimed and/or upcycled materials and furniture which is circular and has a high level of recycled content.
Rethinking the boardroom
The traditional boardroom has not fundamentally evolved to any great degree, but we feel that’s about to change, as companies embrace new ways of collaborating and question the amount of space it can require. More informal team stand up meetings are popular in the creative and IT sectors and as teams become more remote, the importance of a dedicated boardroom has diminished.
Sure, the boardroom and meeting rooms in general still have a part to play but more flexible, multipurpose spaces are now what are frequently asked for. Spaces that can act as a boardroom when required but which can also be used for other group activities and increasingly, have the ability to split into multiple, smaller spaces – retractable wall systems have been the norm for some time, but think really seamless spaces which can be reconfigured with little or no expertise.
The third space – the unconventional space
What we mean by unconventional spaces are those areas that in the past have not been even considered as spaces where staff could work from – think corridors, window ledges or even an open space under the stairs, known industry wide as the ‘third space’. Technology has of course driven this trend and enabled staff to work from anywhere within the workplace with plug and play spaces located throughout many offices. This trend also feeds into the need for privacy and spaces away from the desk, and together they provide staff with a variety of options to choose to work from.
The third space has long been a matter of intense debate among architects and office designers as both strive to maximise the usability of any space while also making it feel too functional. In addition, the rise of agile work practices and access to the right tools (tablet, laptop) have also fuelled this trend and we expect workspaces to continuing using the ‘third space’ in a variety of unconventional manners over the coming years.
Other office design trends to watch for in 2020
- Bold colours, prints, even wallpapers are back in vogue – you heard it here first.
- Mindfulness will come to the fore as companies look to create workplaces that provide spaces for concentration, study/research and even quiet time + reflection.
- Outdoor working spaces will become more commonplace (this includes rooftops and even balconies.
- Going the extra mile – companies will include spaces designed to be different, to stand out but ultimately to create a competitive advantage when attracting the very best talent. Dedicated gyms, yoga rooms and even a sauna.
- A subtle change to the traditional reception to be more concierge or hospitality orientated.