2018 Workspace Trends

The death of cubicles and cable-ridden office desks has been long predicted, as minimalist gadgets and greenery are taking over the traditional workspaces. Millennials and Generation Z will continue to influence the direction of office design, going for everything small, smart, practical and collaborative.

Millennials have become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and as Generation Z starts entering the workplace, the profile of the typical employee has drastically changed. The era of cluttered office desks, knotted cables, post-its and cubicles has officially come to an end as more and more businesses rely on customized spaces, open floorplans and free goodies to attract the younger workforce. Architects and designers have tried to incorporate individual preferences through fluid designs, while at the same time using the employer’s brand identity to create the workplace of tomorrow. 

Non-conventional spaces

Cubicles are no longer deemed necessities in the workplace as the attention shifts towards collaborative spaces that create a “work casual” feeling. Tech companies or cutting-edge firms such as Google and Pixar focus on bringing their employers together under open and light-filled rooms that often bear a personal touch.

Co-working and collaboration

The number of shared spaces continues to grow, and by 2018, their number will reach well above a million units. They have stood the test of time and are easily accessible due to apps like Croissant or Desk.Works that make the nearest co-working space one click away. Additionally, it has been shown that working together with similar people and on similar tasks makes one happier more engaged.

Activity-based design

Companies are trying to make the best of the space they occupy. By combining the need for privacy and collaborative design, dividing the office space by activity provides separate areas suited for a particular work style. This team-oriented trend is flexible enough for different teams to adapt the allocated zones to their needs, increasing productivity and engagement.

Home is where the work is

Remote working has decreased in favor of collaborative spaces and companies seek to keep their employees closer and more motivated. This can be achieved by bringing a personal touch or a part of their home to the workplace, creating an enjoyable environment . Employers started bringing slices of life into workspaces, customizing the areas with alternative elements inspired by bars, pubs, coffee shops, video games or warehouses.

Wellness at work

A healthy employee is a happy employee, so companies seek to offer wellness options to their members. More and more office buildings have integrated fitness centers, pools, saunas and spas. Perks such as free gym memberships, on-site health bars or kitchens equipped with organic food and coffee will be accessible to a wider range of people.

Green spurs growth

It has been proven that being out in nature reduces stress and has many psychological and physical benefits. A massive emerging office trend is the biophilic design, where companies are trying to find a way to connect the workplaces with the outdoors. WELL Building certification, CDC Fitwel certification and LEED certification are just a few of the building standards that try to bring the workforce and health under the same roof. The green design allows plants and bits of nature into every office and beyond—cubicle walls are often replaced by green dividers, while the most daring go for an entire moss-covered wall.

Colors and textures

The office space of the future embraces a natural palette that comprises earthly tones and textures. Employers go for practical and eco-friendly materials that create comfortable, yet modern areas. Wood, faux leather, stones and metal are the most sought-after textures.

Minimal touch

Technology is by far the key driver of today’s workforce. Not only is it rapidly evolving, but it has also become more mobile, reducing the need for useless, space-consuming gadgets. The workplace itself has shrunk, as the big computers were replaced by personal laptops. Keyboards, mice and headsets have become wireless. Moreover, tablets, smartboards and smartphones allow employees to move around freely and be constantly connected.

Integrated technology

By integrating technology in the workplace, both employers and employees save space and embrace a simpler, more functional design. Products such as FUSE desktop module allow people to create quick set-up and connections of power and display easily. Integrated technology is also found in the iPhone 7, which features Bluetooth stereo speakers integrated into the earpiece.

Augmented reality

Virtual reality took the industry by storm in 2016 and has given architects and companies the opportunity to visualize what a finished project will look like, and now augmented reality successfully integrates a product or a design in the real world. Overlaying the artificial on reality redefines the experience of space and location. Starting in September, Swedish furniture powerhouse IKEA joined forces with Apple and launched ARKit, which will let consumers design areas by virtually test driving furniture and home goods.

Data-driven design

Office layouts were previously created based on comparisons and assumptions, leaving no place for the employees’ preferences. Today, their goals and behaviors play a much more important part in creating the place to work thanks to user testing, surveys, analytics and research. All of these are encapsulated in wearable devices that compile data, which provides a relevant profile of what employees want or need. For example, Humanyze’s sociometric ID badges include integrated sensors, accelerometers, Bluetooth and microphones that collect the employee’s data and create a better understanding of what he needs or how he reacts to certain environments and factors. Enlighted is another product that gathers information through sensors on occupancy and movement within an area, allowing a company to understand how the workplace is utilized.

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