When organizations decide it’s time for an office redesign, they’re not after a new color scheme and a fresh coat of paint. What they really want is a way to keep employees engaged, improve productivity, and improve workplace flexibility.
The latest office trends all aim to create happier, more productive and healthier workplaces, so today I’m looking at the top 5 office design trends of 2016.
1) Open Offices
The open-plan office was originally conceived in the 1950s as a way to facilitate communication and remove divisions between employees.
More than 60 years later, open offices are more popular than ever. However, there is growing resistance to the open office trend, due to its impact on employee productivity and the effect of increased noise on stress levels. Employers want the collaboration benefits that open office working offers, without compromising on productivity and performance.
As a designer, there’s lots you can do to reduce noise levels in open offices. Adding more soft furnishings, experimenting with sound masking, and even choosing the right flooring can dramatically improve open office acoustics.
2) Sit-to-Stand Working
Sit-to-stand working is growing in popularity across the globe, thanks to the productivity and health and wellness benefits it offers. As we become increasingly aware of the dangers of an extremely sedentary lifestyle, sit-to-stand working is the ideal way for employers to encourage their employees to vary their posture throughout the day, and mitigate the health risks associated with sitting for hours on end.
If your client wants a sit-to-stand office, it’s important that you consider the comfort of standing workers just like you would for seated workers. The most important thing to consider is underfoot comfort, so employees aren’t suffering from muscle strain or fatigue when standing.
Carpet with open cell cushion backing is ideal – it uses the same technology found in high-performance athletic shoes, and has been shown to reduce muscle strain by 24% compared with hardback carpet.
» Discover 4 secrets of world-class sit-to-stand offices, by downloading our free eGuide.
3) Non-Permanent Layouts
For the modern office, flexibility is key. As office teams grow, shrink and restructure, office space will be used differently. Desks and other furniture will be moved around, so your clients will need access to flexible power distribution.
This can be designed into an office space, for example, by having sockets embedded in the floor. Some companies are even developing flexible power distribution products that rely on carpet, using carpet tiles to conceal thin power tracks that distribute power throughout an open floor plan.
4) Designated Breakout Spaces
A well-designed breakout area can improve creativity, collaboration and productivity. Many organizations are embracing the benefits of breakout spaces by incorporating them into their office redesigns, to provide their employees with a collaborative workspace, set apart from their heads-down workspace.
It’s important to realize that a breakout space is a space that workers choose to use – they have to move away from their desk to work there, so there are several elements that are essential to designing a successful breakout space. The space needs to fit with the organization’s culture, as well as being furnished and lit appropriately, to create a comfortable workspace that employees actively choose to use.
5) Biophilic Design
Biophilic office design is the practice of incorporating elements of nature into the workplace. Research has found that views of nature, access to greenery and natural lighting help employees feel less stressed and better able to focus effectively while at work.
You can easily incorporate elements of biophilic design into your client’s office, by using transparent or translucent screens rather than opaque dividers to allow natural light to travel through the office space, using natural materials like wood or stones, or specifying leafy plants as part of the design (which have the added benefit of absorbing sound and reducing noise levels).