Driven by employee-centred corporate values, the changing face of the workforce and innovative technology, workspace interiors, with every passing year, have transmuted, adopting more and more employee-friendly designs. As millennials populate growing corporate houses, office spaces are transforming, becoming convenient, modular and futuristic. The idea of recreating traditional workstations and focusing on collaboration, innovation, and engagement in the workplace is also a catalyst to attract the fresh talent of Generation Z. They are being metamorphosed with an aim to improve efficiency, enhance productivity and stimulate the mind in an effort to inspire innovation.
Trends like alternate work styles, workplace flexibility, and ergonomics are the fundamentals for the evolution of modern offices. These present-day offices have adapted their workplaces to changing technology, which allows seamless mobility. Just as we witnessed an inclination towards collaborative workspaces, home offices, and multipurpose and smart furniture in the year 2016, we anticipate establishments in 2017 to evolve increasingly into spaces that promote flexibility, adaptability and more human-centred design concepts.
Following are the trends that will largely shape the places in which we work in the years ahead:
Open plan offices:
The open plan office, though not a relatively new concept, leads as a form of workplace design that helps nurture collaboration, encourage learning and build a strong office culture. It is extremely important for companies to find the right balance between privacy and collaboration in offices. A popular layout largely adapted by a majority of firms, this concept is definitely here to stay.
The coming year will see a merger of private spaces and open planned layout. This addition will help create a tranquil environment amidst the chaos of work, making it a perfect choice for modern workspaces. Products like privacy pods, meeting zones or Furniture Island will be top choices. A chic addition to any space, these products are specifically designed to provide superior noise occlusion and are also successful in creating mobile private spaces. Keeping the open plan structure intact, it will break the monotony, add a dash of modularity and keep the privacy requirement on point.
An amalgamation of modular and contemporary design, workplaces today are inspired by creativity. Traditional offices are being restored with functionality and strategic ideas to inspire employees. Sitting tethered to a desk is a passé option that needs to revamp. Employees now prefer flexible workspaces that will offer privacy as well as collaboration. Flexible workspaces and smart furniture go hand in hand. As younger employees enter the workforce, making an office future-proof is the need of the hour. With increasing innovations and technology, there will be a sizeable demand for modular and reconfigurable furniture.
A brainchild of the innovative workplace, reconfigurable furniture will embody the idea of furniture that can be transformed in different ways and will complement the everyday requirements of employees. Aiming to utilise every inch and corner available in the organisation, designs will be more focused on making a hybrid office that can be altered as per the need of the hour. Expected to grow in the country, the startup culture is already well versed with the concept, and larger companies will soon work towards redesigning their spaces as well.
The office of tomorrow will not be cluttered with bulky desks and rigid chairs, but will consist of furniture that will be multipurpose in nature. Every piece of furniture is going to play an important part in boosting your productivity and potential. More and more organisations will opt for customised furniture that will be focused towards personnel in order to boost their performance and increase productivity. With the need to go minimal, modular and multipurpose, furniture will be designed to not only change the ambience of office spaces, but also benefit the employees both physically and psychologically.
Furniture will promote radical designs, flexi-seating, and adjustable workstations that will support both sitting and standing postures while working. Collaborative furniture, breakout zones and privacy pods will be configured by the users for work or discussion, and areas for standing discussions will help utilise the entire office space. As the average age of the working class drops, companies will also focus on bringing in brighter-toned furniture to make youngsters feel motivated.
The workplace of tomorrow will be developed to integrate technology. Furniture will be designed with inbuilt connectivity, power adaptors and wireless chargers. As numerous devices will be released to support wireless charging, this feature will be largely embraced by workplaces. It will save the time and effort required to hunt for a plug point and charge one’s device.
Another futuristic aspect that can come to the fore is the use of shared displays and tables with built-in touch screens, which will improve the collaborative workforce.
Inside is the new outside
Today, the working class spends a majority of their time indoors, thus being isolated from the natural elements for the entire day. Placed in a closed environment with harsh lighting, stale air and constant noise has been one of the reasons for the declining health and productivity of many employees. This trend will encourage employees to keep indoor plants and organisations to use Biophilic Design. This new design technique will bring the outdoors inside, with companies investing in treated fresh air units to improve the air quality and enlarged window panes to let natural light in. With Pantone stating ‘Greenery’ as the colour of 2017, offices will definitely opt for ‘green’ in their colour palate, which will promote sustainability in the premises. Elements that will reduce carbon footprint will be preferred. The introduction of elements like green walls, indoor water curtains and light ducts are highly expected phenomena this New Year.
Focus on functionality
Office design is not only meant to sooth the eyes and calm the senses. With cutting-edge competition, workplace interiors play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent. The energy of the organisation needs to be reflected in the interiors. Commercial spaces will be personalised as per the brand concerned. There will be the introduction of ‘fun and vibrant’ design elements and aesthetics that will bring in corporate strategy but also give rise to a cosy working environment. This new design will encourage not only the current working class, but also the younger generation to attain positive feelings, enhance engagement levels with the organisation and achieve timely goals.
Workplace design is critical in employee performance; the wrong design can become a liability for employees, and the perfect space will be termed an asset. The workspace of tomorrow will cut the clutter, break the monotony and emphasise innovation. They will be vibrant, modular and willing to experiment.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
- Cognitive science
- Occupational safety and health
- workplace flexibility
- work styles
- wireless chargers
- workforce and innovative technology
- Human factors and ergonomics