Recent History of Office Design
- 1960s: the Bürolandschaft office movement, which incorporated curved screens, potted plants, and organic geometry to promote collaboration within the “pods” of people working on similar projects.
- 1980s: “hot desking” or “office hoteling,” which assigns desks ad hoc, based on who’s there at any given time. Workers have neither their own desk, nor a personal space to hang a family photo.
- 1990s: introducing the cubicle as the premier “one-size-fits-all” solution to workers’ needs for security.
- 2017: PRIVACY
What do employees find important in office design in 2017?
- 40% find light the most important factor in the workspace, twice as many as furniture –> natural light is important, artificial light depresses people
- The British Council of Offices found that productivity increased by 23% when bad office furniture was replaced.
Main 2017 Design Trends
- Desk sharing —> more demands for adjustable desks so more than one employee can use it comfortably
- Incorporate natural elements —> salvaged woods, organic materials…
- Non-linear design plan for office spaces
- Flexible lay-out —> Modular furniture and seating arrangements so spaces can easily be accommodated to different uses
- Integrate technology —> wires, charging stations…
- Multi-sensory design
Main 2018 Design Trends
- The Biophelic design trend continues as a worker’s mental health becomes just as important as his physical health. One way of reducing an employee’s stress is to introduce the environment in his workspace.
- The Dynamic Layout allows offices to be easily changed according to their needs, and it also takes into account the different generations which are now working in one workspace. Modular furniture allows a company to easily adapt to their changing needs.
- The Unconventional Workspace allows employees to work from practically anywhere, but unconventional workspaces are also showing up in the office. Some companies are creating home-inspired setups in their offices, which give an employee the feeling he is working from home. Also included in this idea is the use of industrial elements, and the introduction of zen rooms.
- Collaboration is still very important, and not just online. Workspaces are being created which foster teamwork, yet workspace pods are also being added to provide privacy to an employee when necessary.
- Integrated Technology is the biggest trend for the moment, spurred on by Smart Offices and devices such as Siri and Alexa. Furniture now has wireless charging pads integrated and the office can be controlled wireless.
- Companies are paying more attention to branding when planning their office spaces. The way the office looks should be a reflection of a company’s culture.
Trends and Ideas
The Fate of the Filing Room
- Except in finance and health care, which is heavily regulated, most companies are putting their files in the cloud.
- Cloud-based computing reduces the office layout necessary for filing, printing, copying, and storage.
- Rooms are becoming available which can be repurposed.
Rethinking the Office Desk
- The number of dedicated office desks might decrease as more people work from home –> people can share the same desk depending on which days they work, which makes room for adjustable desks depending on the user
- Height adjustable desks, treadmill workstations… can adapt to the employees’ needs, without the employee having to adapt to the equipment.
Biophelic design principles
- More offices are strategically and deeply integrating natural elements in their workplace design such as salvaged wood, water features, living walls and outdoor office extensions.
- Use organic or repurposed materials, such as bamboo and reclaimed materials
- Biophilia = the extent to which humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life. Biophelic design elements have demonstrably real, measurable benefits for human performance metrics such as productivity, emotional well-being, stress reduction, learning and healing.
- Biophilic Design Principles:
- Mimic natural systems (such as ponds or a painting of nature) and incorporate nature
- Addition of plant life is just the beginning, you can also use certain patterns that mimic nature or plant life –> Fibonacci Sequence
- Natural Light
- Our minds and bodies appreciate the presence of water
- Airflow variations are very important; they have been shown to keep people awake
- Appeal to multiple senses
Time to collaborate better and faster
- The trend points to non-linear design in favor of striking yet cozy meeting spaces.
- Coworking offices aren’t traditional offices, and they’re not work-from-home situations. Instead, they’re nicely appointed and meticulously maintained shared workspaces that can be accessed for a weekly or monthly fee.
Shape up with new seating options
- Adaptable furniture that can adapt to a changing need, such as modular furniture and seats –> relates to the flexible lay-out
- Limited Personal Work Space: making a common working place for all employees to work and serve –> such as a communal table
- Rethinking familiar office furnishings:
- Standing desks are far from a passing craze — they’re an answer to one of humankind’s oldest dilemmas: Our bodies are “designed” neither for sitting nor for standing. Standing desks and ergonomic furniture and accessories are designed to make our workplaces and offices a touch more comfortable — and healthy.
- New research shows that standing desks create a work communication benefit. It’s called the “bar height factor.” In the Science of Us article, the writer quoted Daniel Krivens, lead designer at Krivens Partners, who pointed out how bars and pubs have a counter with stools at the same height as a standing person. Everyone is at eye level with one another, which helps people strike up conversations. Krivens noted that in an office, the difference between someone who is standing versus someone who is sitting is 12 inches, making it harder for a standing person to ignore a coworker passing by. Essentially, it’s almost impossible for someone to not say Hello to a passerby when eye to eye. Since so many of us have a tendency to put our heads down and close up communication to get our work done, it would seem that a standing desk might pull us out of our cocoons.
- Open floor plan workspace/work stations in an open room as opposed to enclosed, private offices — can help build a fun, friendly environment which helps cultivate relationships and productivity.
- Citing a Harvard Business School research study, Bloomberg reported that the denser an area is with people that are more productive, the better it was for those who worked nearby (within a radius of two feet). The converse also held true for people identified as “toxic” or unproductive employees and their nearby counterparts — the closer people were to these people, the less productive they were.
- Workspaces that integrate with technology is one design trend that will see an uprise: wireless charging, built-in power adapters and multimedia capabilities
- Multisensory design acknowledges that people experience and react to space in many ways, subtle and obvious, consciously and unconsciously. The retail, entertainment, and hospitality industries have long incorporated multisensory elements into their environments; now workplace may finally be catching up.
- Access to natural light: sight goes beyond aesthetics – Visual access to daylight and nature, for example, help us maintain consistent circadian rhythms (which are tied to physical, mental, and behavioral health), and exposure to sunshine gives our bodies the opportunity to synthesize vitamin D, which promotes bone health, modulates immune function, and reduces inflammation.
- Additionally, avoiding a sense of crowding in the workplace and providing clear sight lines between coworkers helps contribute to productive, healthy work environments.
- warm-toned, natural materials like wood spark positive biophilic effects.
- Green, blue and white colors are the best for the office
- In the workplace, too, pleasant scents can help create a strong, positive association between a space and its occupants, and make the office feel less sterile and more personal.
- scented candles and soap into the restrooms of third-party spaces to help attendees form a positive association with their surroundings. This approach is popular in coworking environments as well.
- Eating and drinking together is universally fun, and proven to help people bond. Providing amenities and activities that revolve around the ritual of meals and refreshments is a great way to attract and retain talent, as well as a means of encouraging people to share personal experiences (i.e.: not talk about work for once) and connect across cultures.
- Sound in the office can be relaxing or energizing, but it’s more closely associated with noise and distraction. These days, those frustrations can be exacerbated by open office layouts and the trend of outfitting spaces with harder, more reflective materials. Research on the effects of the low frequencies (sometimes perceived as vibrations) that emanate from much modern office equipment suggests that even these barely-perceptible sounds can negatively affect the nervous system and cause sleep disorders.
- Playing brand-appropriate music in common spaces — without vocals if you’re looking to concentrate — can help to set your workplace apart, for example. Allowing occupants to customize music in selected spaces is a way to provide them with personal control of the workplace. For distracting noises, using sound-masking technologies and materials facilitates increased concentration and confidentiality when needed, and can help differentiate heads-down, focused spaces from social or collaborative ones.
- As a result, more and more workplaces are trying to reduce their “noise footprint” by introducing soundproofing products and other dampeners, like tapestries, window treatments and more. A quieter work environment generally translates into a more productive workforce
- Choosing natural materials for furniture and decor when possible (such as fabric versus plastic) can make for a more calming space. Offices kept too warm can contribute to “sick building syndrome” symptoms that negatively impact well-being, productivity, and people’s desire to be there.