The business world has always been a competitive market and workplace design is playing an increasing and integral role. More and more companies are becoming aware of how their workspace reflects, promotes and sells their brand ethos and story and the effect that can have on attracting and retaining top talent. Employees are expecting more from their working environment, which has led to businesses who are looking for ways to create workspaces that promote employee happiness, wellbeing, engagement and meet the high expectations of potential employees.
Now more than ever, British businesses must think carefully about the avenues they invest within their business and with the move towards a more agile working generation it is no surprise that many of the design trends are led by functionality and staff retention. With 2019 fast approaching, we’re taking a look ahead at some of the design trends that we feel will be influential in office design over the next 12 months.
Co-working / agile working
In the last decade tech companies such as Apple and Google have been at the forefront of workplace design trends. The quirky offices with slides and sleep pods have divided opinions and encouraged designers worldwide to push the boundaries of what is possible within office environments. We often have clients using Google as a benchmark of what they would like and often what they would love to avoid. This so-called Google effect has influenced the design world for the last decade but more recently co-working spaces such as WeWork have gained publicity and once again the workplace ‘standards’ have been challenged. People are realising that a dedicated desk or a private office is no longer a necessity and it is possible and often preferred to work in a more informal relaxed open environment.
Millennials are enjoying the flexibility and freedom of renting a workspace and flourishing in an environment designed to encourage social interactions often between people that wouldn’t usually cross paths. Coworking spaces have successfully created communities of people from different industries that may otherwise be working from home or in small privately rented offices. Areas such as lounges, bars, espresso stations set amongst a rich palette of designer furniture and interesting finishes. Banks of desks are far from the norm.
This way of working is beginning to filter into private businesses, and increasing numbers of employees are working in agile and flexible ways. Advances in technology have supported the boom of agile working and there is no longer a necessity to be tied to a desktop computer by fixed cables. Employees are also voicing a strong desire for a variety of working areas away from the open plan. Intricate tasks require quiet zones and occasionally it is essential for us all to break away from our colleagues and retreat to a quiet area in order to focus. Individual acoustic work booths such as Connection Cubbi pods are an ideal solution to this meet this requirement. Increasingly we are designing more collaboration, quiet areas and hotdesking zones and encouraging clients to consider their future expansion plans. Our friends at Orangebox are at the forefront of agile working and have produced various reports and example floor plans that demonstrate how space can be optimized to support multiple employees and functions.
Cat A and Cat B are well-known industry terms to describe the stage of an interior office fit out.
Cat A – ensures the building is functional and includes the core services, basic electrical, lighting and mechanical services. It does not include any interior decoration or design.
Cat B – is the continuation of Cat A into a fully functional, decorated and furnished office space. This is tailored to the tenants’ requirements.
Cat A+ is an emerging design trend that bridges the gap between A & B. It includes all elements of Cat A with the addition of elements essential for a tenant to use the space on arrival. These can include meeting rooms and tea point facilities. Cat A+ allows tenants to move in immediately reducing costs and saving time for both parties.
Biophilic design will continue to gather momentum thanks to clients being more aware of the positive impacts it can bring and the ever increasing range of products that are now available. Features such as green walls and living plants have moved past simply being a ‘fashionable’ feature and are now becoming integral elements that offer tangible benefits to a workspace. Biophilic design can reduce stress, improve wellbeing and even improve air quality, factors that are a staple consideration in most office fit outs. In recent times there has been a broadening range of suppliers offering biophilic solutions – this makes it more accessible and it appears that this will be one of the latest design trends that will be around for the long haul. Some of our current favourite products are:
These panels add a splash of green with the added benefit of being an acoustical wall solution. Their easy installation makes them ideal for new or refurb projects.
Innerspace offers innovative and creative internal finishes, we particularly love their creative use of moss in these suspended spheres. They also offer some fantastic other options such as their moss walls and these unique desk gardens.
Frovi Relic Cloud – British manufacturer Frovi have taken a unique approach in bringing biophilia into the office. This innovative meeting and collaboration table gives the user the opportunity to tailor their space with task lighting and plants while promoting creativity in the workplace.
Colour and Patterns
Thankfully, the days of white walls and blue carpet in workplace design are behind us. In recent times businesses are more open and aren’t afraid of introducing bold colours and patterns into their spaces. These can come from company branding and corporate imagery, but increasingly they are being influenced by the psychological effect of colours:
Blue – calming, aids concentration and increases productivity.
Yellow – encourages alertness and creativity, linked to happiness, optimism and excitement.
Green – associated with nature, can help reduce anxiety, supports biophilia.
Red – vibrant and energising, boost’s ability to complete physical tasks.
We are also seeing a surge in geometric patterns – these act as a vehicle for colour and don’t tend to date as quickly as other feature patterns. We are loving Tektura’s new Angles patterned vinyl wall covering and Bolon woven vinyl tile in geometric shapes.
Ones to watch out for
We asked our design team to predict their wild-card trends of 2019.
Lucy, Junior Designer; Tech free zones – Technology has revolutionised the way we communicate, both in our personal lives and at work. As much as we benefit from technology there are many ways in which it can impact us negatively – therefore in 2019, I believe tech-free zones will be increasingly requested by clients for their offices. By providing a space for digital detoxing, employees can step away from their laptops and phones to rest and contemplate and connect with their fellow workers face-to-face. This can lead to improved well-being as well as increased collaboration.
Georgina, Interior Designer; Colour Blocking – With the Bauhaus celebrating its centenary in 2019 designers across the world from all industries will be reflecting on the legacy of the school. I predict that bold bright colour blocking and geometric shapes inspired by the movement will be one of the big design trends of 2019.
Dave, Head of Design; Smart furniture – The rise of the Collaborative Workplace has been a great source of inspiration for furniture manufacturers over the past few years and we’ve seen a number of innovative solutions created to meet the changing needs of today’s workforce. Now that these gaps in the market have been filled, I expect to see manufacturers exploring ways in which they can build on and improve their existing products. One of the ways to do so would be to integrate more technology within them. Meeting booths with smart speakers that can answer questions or take meeting notes or work pods that can remember the users preferred lighting levels and desk height could be the next step, rather than reinventing the task chair for the hundredth time.
How can you apply these to your workspace?
It’s vital that office spaces are not only aesthetically pleasing but that they suit the needs, culture and processes of the business. Employee happiness and productivity is driven by a workplace that allows them to easily work in the way that best suits them – the office design should encourage creativity, collaboration and support the business function. Calling the above topics “design trends” may be oversimplifying them and a little unfair. Finding ways for a workforce to work more effectively in an environment that has a positive influence on their wellbeing should surely never go out of style.
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