From healthier, user-centric offices to increasingly flexible workspaces, let’s look at 6 workplace design trends we are seeing in 2018.
e’re just past the halfway point of 2018 and we can finally start to evaluate if our interior workspace design predictions are coming true. We’ve narrowed down our list to six major trends, some with a few additional sub-categories, that we have seen making an impact in our workplaces this year.
If past years serve as any indication, we tend to attempt to look forward for something different or unique, but when we evaluate on the ground design trends, the most noticeable things are what’s missing. In 2013, it was cubicles. In 2015, it was walls. In 2017, it was no walls. This year has pushed designers into the background and the focus is on PEOPLE.
As the ‘war for talent’ continues to grow, every organization’s highest priorities are to attract the best talent possible. We’re seeing more companies realize that they need to invest more in their people; it’s their biggest and most valuable asset. Innovation depends on people and a company is only as good as the talent it can attract and retain. Companies are already attempting to draw in the best employees with modern workspaces and top-tier amenities.
While it’s not always immediately apparent, one of the most cost-effective solutions is creating a healthy work environment. We should all know by now that health is an important factor in optimizing performance at work. This is starting to be a higher priority in workplace design with ideas such as biophilic design, sit-stand desks, food & nourishment, wellness programs, increased physical movement, and HR leadership taking a more active role in workplace design.
In an effort to impact personal health and the broader global environment, the coworking space start-up WeWork recently stopped reimbursing meals containing meat and pulled all meat from their cafeterias.
The commercial office market is being disrupted and many developers and landlords are still struggling to differentiate themselves in a very crowded market and desperately trying to avoid commoditization. If you stop and think for a moment where there is real value for a tenant’s business, its improving their ability to connect with others, build relationships and generate new businesses. In its simplest form it’s the community, but to increase the efficiency of gaining that benefit it helps to focus on the right groups of businesses.
Traditionally the only real example of this has been a medical office building. Doctors refer business to other specialists often located in the same building. This concept is extending into other industries. Coworking spaces, naturally provide a form of curated communities. They create the loose connections and fringe businesses that stimulate new ideas, innovation, and new opportunities. We’re seeing property managers transition into matchmakers and office community liasons.
SUPER FLEXIBLE WORKSPACES
Flexible alternatives to coworking, activity-based workspaces, unassigned seating, and ‘resimercial’ office design are rapidly increasing as the workplace increases the types of flexible work environments.
We are living in an environment where technology is rapidly increasing the speed and amount of knowledge we are confronted with. In order for businesses to better manage themselves, communicate, and share ideas, that information must flow outside of traditional hierarchal structures. New workplaces are increasing in variety and types to accommodate a much broader range of function, and people are moving to the space that best supports their work. Many organizations are limited by the concept of Ownership of space, which runs deep in the culture. As that begins to erode, we are seeing an increase in the amount and variety of workspace options.
Organizations are created and driven by their vision, mission, and purpose and the leadership of an organization is vital in ensuring that these vision and mission goals are communicated clearly and aligned.
Branded office spaces are popular tools to help communicate messages and strengthen their brands. Over and over again we see the leadership of organizations use their workplace to reinforce and align that message and use the workplace to move their business forward. The office space must ‘talk the talk’ and be consistent with the values and expectations of leadership. There are many great examples of visionary leaders using their space as a leadership tool – in Madison, we don’t have to look further than Epic Systems in Verona to see how leadership influences design and ultimately corporate culture.
THINKING BEYOND “WALLS OR NO WALLS”
The idea that ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to work environments is dead. The workplace design industry is filled with over simplified conversation about open vs. closed plan offices, and the truth is, it’s all irrelevant. It’s born out of a cost reduction mentality that permeates much of corporate America. Cost is important, but it should not be the driver. The workplace and all of its accoutrements have to support the leadership goals of the organization first.
Space is in many ways similar to fashion or technology – things go in and out of style all the time. What’s actually important to understand is that each organization is different and has a set of unique requirements needed to achieve maximum performance. And their space should appropriately reflect that. Rather than arguing over open vs. closed or walls vs. no walls, we should be considering and evaluating what will create the best working environment to support the needs of the specific organization. It is important to consider where the physical space and commercial real estate can provide the best value. Build and design based on value impacts on your business, it’s not all about today’s costs.
ADAPTING DESIGNS TO CHANGING BEHAVIORS
Unless you’ve been hiding out under a rock, this is one of the most significant and profound cultural shifts happening in our society. Perhaps caused by more divisive politics, sexual harassment, ‘boys will be boys’ excuses, unequal treatment, and related crises, this issue is rapidly rising front and center.
We’re seeing more diverse work environments bring changing nearly every business we encounter. And designers are adapting to workplaces more representative of the work population – starting with women. Female leaders are smart, respected, passionate, caring, hardworking, and thoughtful. And now, more than ever, women are rising into leadership positions and as this continues to happen, you will see healthier workplaces, higher performing organizations, and a greater focus on deep meaning and purpose, which is what really drives organizations. This is having lasting impacts shaping our workplaces today and long into the future.
At InteriorLOGIC, we build work environments. From our home office in Madison, WI our award-winning commercial interior design team focuses on creating spaces that work. We continually work to improve the end user experience with each design and our team is well-suited for challenging projects including LEED certification and sustainability projects. For more information about our business and approach, please visit www.intlogic.com.