As we're into a New Year, it's time to think about what 2017 will hold in store for office design. We've scoured office design mags, blogs and research papers and taken stock of the type of enquiries coming through so far to comprise this list. So without any further ado, here are our top office design trends to watch in 2017.
This year we'll finally start to see the demise of the 'one size fits all' open plan office where people are neither collaborating effectively or finding a space to work in peace, without disruptions.
Thus, the priority for office design in 2017 is to create areas for collaboration and for privacy.
Office furniture will feature heavily in creating areas designed for a clear purpose. Modular furniture can be easily adapted to suit changing requirements. With more use of modular workbenches, desk pods, meeting points, collaborative areas and break-out spaces.
Each area will be designed to promote its specific use, from wall colour, acoustics and the layout of the furniture. Whether it's more use of extending monitor arms that swivel and let people show their screen to others nearby or tables with built in touchscreens, each will contribute to the role and purpose of an area.
Sit & stand desks have been reported to have long term health benefits and will appear more and more in offices in 2017 as employers see the short-term benefits too with decreases in employee pain that arises from poor desk posture and improved productivity.
As more baby boomers retire, millennials, i.e. those born between the early 1980's and mid 2000's (now, I feel old!), will become the largest generation in the workplace. So, it makes sense in 2017, that millennials will influence the direction of office design.
What do Millennials require in office design?
Millennials reject the traditional 9-5, demand flexibility and are tech-savvy and creative. They'll look for contemporary furniture, an open floor plan which signals a flat, non-hierarchal, collaborative structure and areas that foster spontaneous and creative meetings. Conventional conference rooms and meeting rooms simply do not cut it for millennials.
This is a social generation so it's important to provide areas to socialise and congregate with features such as lounge areas, bar-height seating and games rooms with ping pong or football tables.
What was the domain of tech and start-ups wanting to look cool, will transfer to traditional industries and mature organisations in 2017. We'll see them adopting the trend for football tables, beer taps and slides and the like, as they recognise it's not just about creating a cool space, but also a way of representing your brand and company culture.
In many companies, there is far too much eating at the desk. Not only is this unhygienic, it's not conducive for personal well-being and productivity. A separate lounge area gives people the opportunity to properly relax, which means they're much more likely to return to their desk refreshed and recharged.
Employee benefits in 2017 go beyond health care and pensions to the everyday, here and now. Employees want a workplace with personality. They want fun spaces, fitness provisions, pet-friendly environments and flexible working. Long gone are the sterile, suit and tie days.
Bringing the outside in (again)
This has been a theme in office design for a few years now and perhaps 2017 is the year that it will be more of a consideration for SME's and not just the big brands. Office workers spend 8 hours a day inside so companies are becoming more aware of how bringing nature into an office design comes with several psychological benefits.
Biophilia is the term used to describe human's innate need for nature. As humans, we like to have flowers, plants and trees in our environment. Plants in the workplace are known to reduce stress, improve well-being, reduce noise, improve air quality by removing harmful pollutants and provide natural screens.
More companies are creating a natural wall, which in addition to its health and well-being benefits, represents a company's commitment to the environment.
Other ways of creating an 'outside-in' office design is the use of natural materials with wooden floors, stone accents, warm autumnal colours and plant-inspired materials.
Workplace design is all about designing for people. More employers are recognising that by taking care of their workforce and providing a healthy and happy environment, they'll reap the rewards in increased productivity, higher retention and attraction of the best talent.