Over the last few decades, workplace design has taken numerous different twists and turns. From the cramped cubicle-dominated spaces of the 1980s to today’s open plan work environments, the idea of what makes a good office is forever shifting and evolving. However, what remains constant is the fact that the physical workplace plays a key role in attracting and retaining top talent and enhancing worker performance. If you are looking to give your workplace a makeover, here are five office design trends you’ll want to know about.
- Alternative work zones
Today, more and more companies are realising that when it comes to working styles, one size does not fit all. In the modern office, we are seeing far fewer fixed workspaces and far more flexible settings that enable employees to choose how and where they work. The open plan office is still largely considered to be an effective way to encourage collaboration and camaraderie among colleagues, but it is also important to think about what happens when workers need private spaces to focus on an individual task. The solution? Provide various work zones where employees can carry out a range of different activities, including both collaborative spaces for group work and private spots away from distractions. This can help to make the working day far less repetitive and give employees a sense of autonomy, which in turn can enhance morale, boost productivity and improve companies’ bottom lines.
- Hot desking
Chances are, you have probably heard the term ‘hot desking’ or ‘free desking’ before. Hot desking is where office workers don’t have their own personal desk and instead choose any available workstation – and it’s a trend that many forward-thinking firms are adopting in a bid to increase social engagement and improve collaboration in the workplace. By having non-assigned seating plans and promoting movement around the office, staff members are encouraged to stray from the comfort of their departments and cliques and build relationships with other people they may not have otherwise associated with. This helps to break down the barriers of hierarchy that can stifle communication, bring more of a relaxed atmosphere to the office and foster a wider sense of community. It can also be great for aiding knowledge sharing as it increases the chance of colleagues having spontaneous discussions and impromptu brainstorming sessions, which can help to stimulate creativity and innovation. In fact, studies have shown that some of the best business ideas are born out of chance encounters between colleagues in informal settings.
- Break out areas
Another increasingly popular office design trend is the inclusion of break out areas and entertainment rooms. Following the examples set by cutting-edge tech companies like Google and Facebook, an increasing number of businesses are creating more informal workplaces that blur the boundary between work and play. Whether it’s a games room or a relaxed lounge area, providing designated spaces where workers can go to recharge their batteries and socialise with colleagues can strengthen relationships and make the working day far more enjoyable. While you may be worried that encouraging recreational activities during working hours will lead to procrastination and distract people from their tasks, it could in fact have the opposite effect. It’s now well known that downtime can be just as important as work in terms of productivity, as it can help to improve job satisfaction, inspire creativity and actually increase worker performance in the long run. After all, when you consider that your employees spend long hours in the office, it’s easy to see why they need to be able to take regular breaks and wind down.
- Flexible layouts
With the ever evolving business landscape, the benefit of having a flexible layout is becoming an increasingly appealing option for managers and business owners. Many companies are now doing away with the permanent office layout in favour of more flexible designs that can adapt and flex with their changing needs. Modular, portable and reconfigurable furniture can be mixed and matched, stacked, folded away and moved around to create a variety of multi-purpose spaces as and when they are needed. Rather than having a traditional boardroom, many offices are now using modular tables and office partitions to create pop-up meeting areas, allowing employees to modify their workspaces according to how much collaboration is needed. These space-saving, adaptable furniture designs can be especially useful for small, start-up companies that are growing at a rapid pace and need flexibility in their office layout. For the environmentally conscious, it also means less waste as you won’t have to get rid of permanent fittings and fixtures if you ever need to move location.
If you want to reinforce a sense of community and increase loyalty and engagement among your employees, you might need to hop on the branding bandwagon. Forget company logos in the reception room and branded stationery in the boardroom – today, a company’s image needs to be embodied in every aspect of office design in order to be truly effective. Branded workplaces are all about creating a memorable experience for clients and an inspiring environment for employees. It is a way of telling the story behind your business and communicating your values, aspirations and personality to anyone who walks through the door. Everything within the building should represent a clear image of who you are as a company and be instantly recognisable, from the colours of your walls to your choice of office furniture. Not only can a branded interior be used as part of your marketing strategy to promote your business, but it can also give your workers a greater sense of purpose and make them feel more connected to their jobs.
So, if you’re a manager looking to revamp your office space, why not try some of the design trends listed above and see how much of a difference they can make? For more ideas on how to create a comfortable, inspiring and efficient workplace, take a look around our website and browse our selection of products.