Now that we are approaching the end of 2018, we think it is the perfect time to consider the emerging design trends that look set to exert their influence on the offices of tomorrow. In an economic climate whose uncertainty is compounded by the spectre of Brexit, British business people are thinking carefully about how they invest in office space, and this circumspection has forced the market to adapt. Notably, this has accelerated the evolution of alternative working patterns and prompted a demand for greater flexibility. In this context, it is perhaps no surprise that a significant proportion of the trends that feature in this list are underpinned by considerations of functionality and utility.
Alongside these, another significant phenomenon which is gaining traction is a new emphasis upon the responsibility of employers to properly care for their staff. The need to appeal to prospective staff, satisfy the existing workforce and get the best out of employees has inspired trends which look set to develop further in the coming years. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the key trends to look out for in office design:
The concept of the coworking facility has had a radical effect in both transforming attitudes towards office space and making it more accessible to smaller businesses. The key to the success of the coworking model is that it makes sense for the landlords who seek to maximise the profit on their properties and the businesses that use them. Landlords are beginning to realise that they can increase the revenue from their real estate by establishing coworking facilities. Tenants on the other hand, benefit from enjoying the amenities of a permanent office and the freedom of a freelancer. This being the case, the cultural shift that coworking has precipitated looks set to gather momentum over the coming years.
Whilst Cat A and Cat B have been established industry terms for some time, Cat A+ is emerging to fill a gap in the market. Cat A+ comprised of all the elements of a standard Cat A fit out with the addition of rudimentary features from Cat B. As with coworking, the reason for the emergence of Cat A+ is that it makes business sense for landlords and tenants. In allowing tenants to move in immediately, Cat A+ saves valuable time and reduces costs, making it profitable for both parties.
The growing flexibility of the workforce has meant that offices are increasingly required to adapt to accommodate for fluctuations in staff numbers. With the increase of contract work, leading more people to work as freelancers or on a part-time basis, the need for companies to adapt new working practices has become even more crucial.
The recognition that employees are at their most productive when physically and mentally healthy, have all prompted employers to take a more proactive approach to wellbeing in the office. This trend has been reinforced by the efforts of awarding bodies such as Fitwel which try to promote wellbeing in the workplace through encouraging particular cultural practices and design features in the office.
One new innovation in commercial interiors that has risen in popularity over the past year is the dedicated “recharge” area. Although the breakout space has long been a commonplace feature in offices, allowing employees to get away from their desks and chat with colleagues informally, the recharge area takes things a step further. It provides employees with a quieter, more private space that allows them to escape from work entirely and relax. This helps to increase overall productivity as it offers genuine rest bite from the pressures of work, enabling staff to return to their desks refreshed.
Another phenomenon which we can expect to see more of in the future is an increasingly sophisticated integration of technology into the workspace. It is hard to predict what forms this technology will take, but it will hopefully be both innovative and responsive to the needs of the workforce.