By Dorothy Rogers-Bullis
At some point along the way, the term “trendy” became pejorative—a design concept to be avoided—evoking images of orange shag carpet and Harvest Gold appliances.
When it comes to office design, however, the latest trends aren’t just about flash-in-the-pan materials or color palettes. More often than not, today’s innovations in workplace technology and space planning allow for increased productivity, better ergonomics, and higher employee satisfaction.
Is your workspace keeping up with the times? Here are just a few of the many trends we are seeing in workplace design in 2019.
Increasingly, office workers are seeking the comfortable furniture and settings they enjoy at home, but companies still desire the durability of traditional office products and materials.
Blending residential warmth and familiarity with pragmatic commercial design elements, the so-called “resimercial” trend sits at the intersection of the home and the office. This less formal, highly adaptable style appeals to younger workers, as well as to forward-thinking industries like technology and marketing. It can boost productivity, creativity, and even employee wellness.
The uptight boardroom is being replaced by meeting rooms and breakout areas that are cozier and more casual. Common areas or “social zones” have an aesthetic and texture akin to your local coffee shop with area rugs, plush seating, and ottomans for kicking up your feet. Workstations have ergonomic chairs that allow you to lean back and get comfortable.
Today’s workplace is all about flexibility, and that applies to the way a workspace is utilized, the furniture and equipment that fills it, and the people who work in it.
The open plan office that has come into vogue means space has become highly adaptable—allowing people to work in groups or on their own. Portable dividers, whiteboards on wheels, and easy-to-move seating and work surfaces mean a space can be converted from casual common area to meeting room in a flash.
Flexibility with work schedules and locations also is a key driver of employee satisfaction. And satisfied workers are more productive. Employees are increasingly taking advantage of the ability to work remotely, either from home or from a shared workspace.
In fact, according to recent research, 14 percent of all corporate employees now use coworking spaces to work remotely on a regular basis. Trading a private office for a shared desk and increased flexibility is an exchange more and more employees will happily make.
The workforce today is made up of a diverse array of employees, spanning numerous generations. You have everything from Baby Boomers to Gen Zers, also known as the iGen since they have never known a world without the internet and smartphones. Designing an office that works for such a broad range of ages takes thoughtful planning.
Older generations, for example, generally are accustomed to having a more formal workspace—one where titles are important for making office hierarchy clear, and where private offices and a designated boardroom are the norm. Younger generations typically value a more egalitarian office with an adaptable open plan design and first-come first-served work spaces.
It is challenging to create a workplace that is every single person’s ideal office. Thus, the key is to determine what are the “must-haves” for each employee and do your best to accommodate those top-priority features. For example, while most design work is now done on computer, we recently had a client whose older employees still prefer to use pencil and paper to do their sketches. We therefore found a way to keep a drafting table in their newly designed workspace.
What your office says about your business says a lot.
By Dorothy Rogers-Bullis